May 17, 2016

Mythical R

        Today’s episode of the Mythical Alphabet is brought to you by the letter R, which is a surprisingly sparse letter.  Of course there are plenty of other creatures I could cite to pad out my list, but many of them, such as Redcaps and Rusalka, are too similar to creatures I’ve already discussed.  Some just didn’t seem particularly interesting to me today.  And the rainbow serpent, though interesting, is more of a deity than a mere magical creature, and part of current religious belief, which I think puts it in a different category.  So that leaves us with:

ramidreju - A weasel-like creature that lives in Cantabria in northern Spain, it has an exceptionally long body, green-tinged fur, yellow eyes, and a hog-like snout with which it digs deep holes.  One is born once every hundred years, it loves gold, and its fur heals all illness.  (Spanish)

rompo - With a skeleton-like body, the front legs of a badger, the rear legs of a bear, a horse’s mane, the head of a hare, but the ears of a human, this beast feeds on human corpses.
Given that it seems to be a scavenger rather than a predator, it’s presumably more horrifying than dangerous, but even more unsettling is its habit of crooning softly as it devours human flesh.  On the other hand, it is cautious, not bold, and when frightened will camouflage itself with the color of whatever it sees around it.  (African and Indian, which seems rather vague, but it’s all I can tell you)

robot - Yes, I know robots are not mythical; they work mindlessly in factories all around the world, compete in soccer tournaments, and glow and beep benevolently in toy stores.  In the world of sci-fi and fantasy, however, robots are more than just machines capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically.  They are artificially made and powered by clockwork and/or electronics, but once they’re turned on, they have their own minds and even personalities.  Scientists are trying to make robots like this a reality, whether or not that’s actually a good idea, but so far that kind of robot remains mythical.  (I had hoped to have a new block print to show you here, but I decided to leave the carving to work on during my next show in June, so you get a repeat.)  See previous comments about robots here (Artifical Life), here (Mechanical Treasures), and here (Android Poetry).  (modern European)

roc - enormous elephant-eating bird of prey, see previous post here.  (Middle Eastern)

rakshasa - demonic humanoid who often eats humans, previous post here.  (Indian)

[Pictures: On the Rukh', woodcut based on a drawing by William Harvey, from The Story of Marco Polo, 1899, but apparently ripped off from 1001 Nights translated by Edward William Lane, 1841 (Image from Internet Archive, cf. Andy Brills);
Rompo, woodcut from Natural History by J. Maclock, 1815 (Image from Wikimedia Commons);
Nycteris & Flederer’s Patent Mechanical Chiropterid (Model 3), rubber block print by AEGN, 2015.]

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