The Animal Alphabets Fairy Tale Edition continues on. This week was N for Nutcracker. Interesting to learn that the original story is a bit darker than the
ballet that everyone knows. In the original story, a princess is cursed
by the Rat Queen to turn into a nutcracker doll. To break the curse,
the most handsomest man in the kingdom must find the hardest nut and
crack it open with his teeth and must feed it to the princess before her
transformation is complete. However the curse is transferred to the
handsome man and he takes her place as a nutcracker doll. No one tells
him he would inherit the curse and is banished from the kingdom. Its so
Name: Lamassu, Shedu, Alad Area of Origin: Ancient Mesopotamian cultures
The Lamassu, or less commonly referred to as Shedu or Alad, were ancient Assyrian and Sumerian protective deities, depicted with the body of a bull or lion, eagle’s wings and a human head, usually male. They are celestial beings and were household protective spirits of the Babylonians, but were later associated as royal protectors, usually placed as sentinels at the entrances to palaces in the form of colossal sculptures. They may have influenced the look of Sphinxes and other chimeric creatures found in future civilizations. Recently, a large statue of one of these was found destroyed at a historical archeological site demolished by ISIS.
The Cockatrice is essentially a two-legged dragon with the head of a Rooster’s. It has become synonymous with the Basilisk, and though they are remarkably alike, Basilisks are typically portrayed without wings. A Cockatrice was said to be birthed by a cock’s (male chicken) egg that had been incubated by a toad or snake. Cockatrices, like the Basilisk, could kill by simply looking at its victims, and alternatively by touching or breathing on them. It is oddly noted that the only animal immune to the death stare of the Cockatrice is the weasel. Even weirder still, the Cockatrice could die by hearing the crow of a rooster and according to legend, having the beast look at itself in a mirror would surely kill it. Cockatrices were also ‘comparatively rare’ in heraldry, but appeared in coats nonetheless.