Mysterious or "Mythological Beasts" include gigantic animals, beings that have an extremely
astonishing appearance or do unexpected or uncharacteristic things, also hybrids
and creatures of mixed characteristics that might be considered monsters.
Introduction: This page, right here, includes
Display of Forms
Garuda and his kin the Kinnara and the Shang-shang
Yali (Vyali) and
Mukha: Two animal decorative features.
Dragons are sometimes
said to mate with people and animals. Some believe that
the elephant is the offspring of a dragon and a pig!
Nagas, who are special water beings,
are also here.
Attributes such as weapons, nets, knots, bones, parasols
or hidden lands such as Pemako, Shambala, Shangri-la
Spirits, Ogres &
Demons, also Tulpa & Rolang
Very rarely a creature or child is born that resembles a mixture
of forms. Its appearance requires some explanation, so one wonders what
the comments ca. 1850 were concerning the unfortunate American (Ozarks) mother of
a "snake child" daughter that lived to be 19 years old.
According to the Buddhist tradition hybrids, or what we
might call monsters, originated
during the time right after the Buddha's Awakening when all hatred vanished from
the world. Then, animals that had been foe and prey mated with each other,
and produced offspring such as these.
Notice that in a characteristic Vajrayana fashion, the
"fighters" which are images of chaos themselves, are the ones to fight
According to Dagyab Rinpoche,
"The Symbols of Victory in the Fight against Disharmony, or Disagreement,
are three mythical animals, each of which is composed of parts of two mutually hostile beasts:
.the Eight-Legged Lion (seng-ge rkangpa brgyad-pa)
.the Fur-Bearing Fish (nya spu rgyas-pa)
.the Makara-Cocodile (chu-srin ma-ka-ra)
"According to myth,they are each supposed to have sprung from the union of two rival
animals. I give a short description of each following the text Grub-chen lu-i-pa'i lugs-kyi dpal 'khor-lo sdom-pa'i
bskyed-rim he-ru-ka'i zhal-lung:
"The eight-legged lion is the son of the union of a garuda and a
lion. He has the overall body if a lion, [but] with two wings. He has claws at the
knees ... . The fur-bearing fish is the son of a fish and an otter. He has the overall
body of a fish, [but] with an otter's fur... . The makara crocodile is the son of a snail and a crocodile. His whole body is firm like a snail
shell. He is [also] generally regarded as the son of a union between crocodile,
dragon, and snake. His tail forms entwined patterns (patra)."
In artistic representations, the lion, contrary to the text, always has the head
of a garuda. The claws at his knees are very seldom depicted. The fish is nearly always shown with the
body of an otter, but with a fish's head and flippers.
Although the Tibetan term chus-rin is always translated "crocodile in the
secondary literature, in Sino-Tibetan literature it is more of a fabulous monster than a
crocodile. Accordingly, when depicted in combination with the snail shell,
it is shown having a head with a
mane, and its shape is only vaguely reminiscent of a normal crocodile."
"Among the signs of victory ... a sign with applied animals was
mentioned, which in normal Tibetan usage is called a banner (ba-dan), but is
described in classical Tibetan literature as a sign
of victory (rgyal-mtshan). The animal applications always take the form of the three
pairs of animals described here. The only explanation I can find for the use of these animal symbols to represent a strong
tendrel for the spreading of harmony is that they depict combinations of mutually
hostile animals. The victory signs thus adorned are called "signs of victory in the fight against
disharmony"(mi-mthun g.yul-las rgyal-ba'i rgyal-mtshan). These symbolic beasts are also shown on painted
scrolls, miniature cult pictures, painted on walls and beams, on tents and
marquees, tables, beds, and vessels for religious and everyday use, as butter ornaments for sacrificial
cakes, and depicted on thrones."
~ from chapter 9, entitled mi-mthun g.yul-rgyal, of Dagyab, Loden Sherab's
Buddhist Symbols in Tibetan Culture, illustrated with line-drawings. Wisdom Publications, 1995.
~ Jamyang Lhamo at lotsawa
list in response to query
The mysterious one-horned hooved beast (i.e., a
"unicorn,") that somewhat resembles the Tibetan snow lion is not
associated with Buddhism, but rather Taoism. Chinese legend
has it that it first appeared during the reign of legendary emperor Fu
Hsi, when it emerged from the Yellow River and presented him with a
document which is the basis for the Chinese language.
One again appeared to Confucius (6thC BCE) and spat out a jade tablet upon
which was written that the great philosopher would be the
"uncrowned king" of China. Thus, the Kilin symbolizes worldly success.
In the Chinese form of Buddhism, Vaisharavana
(Tib. Dzambala) rides a Kilin, rather than a snow lion.
In Japan, its name is pronounced kirin, and its horn appears more like an
antler. Sometimes it is depicted as scaly and dragon-like, thus resembling
the chimera of the ancient Greeks.
The word comes from the Latin word for "warning sign." The
connotation here is that the unexpected form is a portent of impending
danger. Hence, in mythology monsters are often linked with a belief in an
underlying, or a pre-theistic, state of chaos. Though "The
Little Mermaid" might seem a sweet little being, she is in fact, a monster.
[ Back ] [ Home ] [ Up ] [ Next ]
[ Animals ] [ Images ] [ Deity Menu ] [ Mysterious ] [ Ritual Items ] [ Objects ] [ Places Tied to Tibetan Tradition ] [ Nature ]