Last Modified: October 3, 2022
A mermaid is a mythical being that combines the characteristics of a young woman and a fish or sea serpent. These women are frequently seen as entrancing and mystifying. Although some stories suggest that there were mermaids who could dwell on both land and sea, it is known that they are animals of the sea and spend the most of their life in this habitat.
There is a lot of speculation about where the mermaid myths came from, although most of these explanations are based on symbolism or an incorrect interpretation of a medical condition. It is also possible that the mermaid legends are just a mechanism for the human mind to make the ocean seem friendlier and less dangerous.
The duality of the mermaid’s nature and the circumstances in which these creatures typically appear is one of the most constant elements, even though there have been numerous diverse interpretations of the mermaid mythology.
The most accurate comparison for a mermaid’s character is to the water itself because she may be both kind and stern. She has the power to either save or take lives. Her very being is thus intricately linked to the ocean; in fact, many mermaid traditions describe maidens with long, emerald-green hair, or at the absolute least, flowing hair that was a reflection of the marine life. The fact that mermaids had tails that resembled fish or serpents also suggests that they had a bond to marine life.
Mermaid sightings have been reported throughout history, despite the fact that they are typically thought of as fictitious creatures.
The battle between St. Olaf and the sea ogre
Olaf II Haraldsson (c. 995–29 July 1030), sometimes known as Saint Olaf (and, more commonly, St. Olave), ruled Norway from 1015 to 1028. He fought a mermaid with the sword Baesingr-Hneiti. He was posthumously awarded the title Rex Perpetuus Norvegiae, which translates to Eternal/Perpetual King of Norway, and was the son of Harald Grenske, a minor king in Vestfold, Norway. One year after his passing on July 29, 1030, in the Battle of Stiklestad, Bishop Grimkell canonized him at Nidaros (Trondheim). Built above his burial place, the Nidaros Cathedral now houses his relics. The broad adoption of Christianity by Scandinavia’s Vikings/Norsemen was aided by his sainthood.
A national identity was formed around the Olav Haraldsson tale and the Olaf the Saint mythology.
American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow included a poetic section titled “The Saga of King Olaf” in his book Tales of a Wayside Inn, which was released in 1863.
The Saga of King Olaf, which is divided into twenty-two parts, chronicles the exploits of King Olaf of Norway and St. Olaf as they battle the margygr (mermaid, sea hag, sea giantess), which the heathens worship, and the huge boar. The Flateyjarbók illustrates the usage of the sword Baesingr-Hneiti against the mermaid and the boar.
A significant medieval Icelandic manuscript is called Flateyjarbók, which is pronounced [flateijarpouk] in Icelandic. It also goes by the name Reykjavk.
The 225 vellum leaves that make up the Flateyjarbók, the largest medieval Icelandic manuscript, are both written and drawn. In particular, the sagas about Olaf Tryggvason, St. Olaf, Sverre, Hákon the Old, Magnus the Good, and Harald Hardrada are included in most of the Norse monarch sagas included in the Heimskringla.
The book was started in 1387 and finished in 1394, or very soon after, according to internal evidence. On the first page, it is said that the book was written by two priests and that its owner is “Jonn Hakonar son.” The contents of the two Olaf sagas from the story of Eirk the Traveler until their conclusion were written by one of them, “Jon prestr órar son,” and the earlier and later material were written by the other, “Magns prestr Thorhallz sun,” who also illustrated the text.
In the latter half of the 15th century, further information was added.
When King Frederick III of Denmark granted Bishop Brynjólfur Sveinsson of Skálholt permission to do so, he asked all Icelanders who owned old manuscripts to turn them over to him, providing either the original or a copy, either as a gift or for a fee. This is when the manuscript first attracted the attention of the learned. The Flateyjarbók was then owned by Jon Finnsson, who lived on Flatey (also known as “Flat Island”) in the fjord of Breiafjörur on Iceland’s northwest coast.
When Bishop Brynjólfur personally visited Jon and gave him five hundreds of acres of land, Jon initially refused to part with his priceless heirloom, the biggest and best book in all of Iceland. Just as the bishop was about to leave the area, Jon reconsidered and gave the book to him.
At 1656, Bishop Brynjólfur presented King Frederick III with the manuscript, which was thereafter kept in the Royal Library of Copenhagen. The Codex Regius (Konungsbók eddukvaea), a second medieval manuscript, was given to the king by the bishop in 1662. It and Flateyjarbók were eventually returned to Iceland in 1971 as Icelandic national treasures after surviving the Copenhagen Fire of 1728 and the Second Battle of Copenhagen in 1807. The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies maintained them and studied them.
The Norwegian Saga Heritage Foundation is actively translating Flateyjarbók into English. Alison Finlay, a professor of medieval English and Icelandic literature at Birkbeck University of London, is the translator. Edvard Eikill translated a six-volume Norwegian edition that was concluded in 2019.
Sightings made by Christopher Columbus in 1493
The well-known Italian explorer was in close proximity to the Dominican Republic on January 9, 1493. The voyage was Columbus’ second. He encountered some unusual animals, mermaids, similar to what he had previously seen off the coast of West Africa, while he was traveling through the Atlantic Ocean.
Columbus writes in his notebook that despite having “a human look in the face,” the mermaids were “not half as beautiful as they are painted.”
Blackbeard's Logbook, 18th century
Edward Teach or Edward Thatch (c. 1680 – 22 November 1718), better known as Blackbeard, was a notorious English pirate who operated off the coasts of the West Indies and Britain’s North American colonies. According to The History Press, Blackbeard was born around 1680 in Bristol, England. According to records, the Teach family owned a large plantation in Spanish Town, which Edward Teach, Jr. inherited as the eldest son in 1706. According to records, the Teach family owned a large plantation in Spanish Town, which Edward Teach, Jr. inherited as the eldest son in 1706.
Teach Jr. generously turned over the plantation to his stepmother and half-siblings around the time he joined the Royal Navy rather than keep it. Teach joined the Royal Navy between 1706 and 1713 and served as a sailor on the HMS Windsor. This would be Teach, Jr.’s first step toward becoming the notorious and feared pirate Blackbeard.
In the early years of the Queen Anne’s War, Blackbeard began his maritime career as a privateer. He was technically a pirate because he was a privateer; he was merely pirating legitimately. According to ANCHOR, Blackbeard and his fellow privateers would attack and plunder enemy ships, engaging in acts of piracy that were sanctioned by the British government. But once the conflict was finished, there was no immediate need for authorized privateers. Edward Teach (like with many others) made the decision to turn to unrestrained piracy rather than risk losing his livelihood and missing an exciting life at sea.
The Queen Anne’s Revenge, a vessel made famous by Blackbeard, was formerly a French slave ship known as La Concorde. In the late fall of 1717, he and his crew claimed the ship off the coast of Martinique in the Caribbean.
Mermaids were mentioned by the pirate Blackbeard in his journal.
According to the Wikipedia section on mermaids, the English pirate Blackbeard “reports that he urged his crew on many expeditions to steer away from documented seas which he labeled ‘enchanted’ out of fear of merfolk or mermaids, which Blackbeard himself and members of his crew claimed witnessing”.
Kai Islands, 1943
During World War II, Japanese soldiers frequently encountered mermaids or “man fish.”
The inhabitants of the Indonesian Kai Islands had a creature to which they were accustomed. Its name, orang ikan, is Indonesian for “man fish.” The Japanese forces stationed there discovered that this was a fact during World War II in 1943.
Multiple allegations of encounters with these “man fish,” or mermaids as the modern world refers to them, were made by these soldiers stationed in a 555 square mile area in the islands.
The Japanese soldiers said they all saw the same thing and reported many encounters.
The weird, lifeless creature, according to Sergeant Taro Horiba, was around 160 cm long, had shoulder-length reddish-brown hair on its head, although it was patchy and sparse, and had spines along the length of its neck. The low, short nose, the broad forehead, and the small ears were described as having a combination of human and ape-like traits, making the face hideous. The lipless mouth was described as large and loaded with small, needle-like teeth that were ideal for gripping and holding prey. It was explicitly described as looking like a carp’s mouth. The monster had long, webbed fingers and toes that culminated in translucent claws. Horiba also claimed that the creature had some sort of algae adhering all over its body, giving it a spotty green tint.
Mummified mermaid at Tenshou-Kyousha Shrine, Fujinomiya, Japan
Mermaids are frequently interpreted as “human fish” or ningyo in Japan. They are mythical fish-like creatures from Japan. A ningyo is said to have golden scales that shine, a mouth like a monkey with teeth the size of fish, and a voice like a skylark or a flute.
This might be the oldest Fiji Mermaid, estimated to be 1,400 years old.
The Shinto Order in Fujinomiya, close to Mount Fuji, is taking care of an ancient mermaid.
Information before you travel
The closest town is Fujinomiya. The temple has no public transit service. On Mount Fuji, amid the woods, it is in the midst of nowhere. The local Shinto temple’s appointment phone number is +81 545-36-2630.
Mummified mermaid from Enjuin Temple in Asakuchi
A “mummified mermaid” that was allegedly captured between 1736 and 1741 in the Pacific Ocean off the Japanese island of Shikoku is currently undergoing examinations. The 300-year-old corpse had been unearthed in a box by Hiroshi Kinoshita of the Okayama Folklore Society after spending decades being prayed to at Enjuin Temple in Asakuchi for its alleged powers of immortality.
The mummy was preserved by the priest Kozen Kuida by keeping it in a fireproof casket.
Kinoshita discovered an intriguing note that went with it.
According to the letter, which was written in 1903, fisherman sold the “strange fish” to a wealthy family. The letter claims that the mummy was passed down through the generations before it was acquired by Enjuin Temple. Locals worshipped the mummy because of its alleged mystical abilities.
Researchers believe the mermaid is a relic from the Edo era after studying it in detail (1603-1868). Similar to “freak shows” in the US, it was customary for Yokai (spirits and entities) and “live” frightening creatures to be on display for audiences as entertainment in traveling shows.
The mummy had its first study earlier this year after centuries of serving as a traditional totem. While experts performed CT scans on February 2, Kinoshita will not stop working until extensive DNA tests have been completed. He thinks the strange species can be explained in a straightforward way.
The outcomes will be made public, according to Kinoshita, later this year.
Rationale for the Evidence
Mermaid myths were not just made for human enjoyment. The purpose of myths is to explain the incomprehensible.
It is crucial to keep in mind that some of the most bizarre marine animals that are observed and studied now were once unknown.
There is still 95% of the vast ocean to be explored with only 5% of it having been discovered. There are currently aquatic animals that were discovered underwater that people hundreds of years ago were not even aware existed. What resides in the shadowy depths is yet unknown to us. What types of worlds are still submerged beneath the waters. And according to others, these uncharted seas may include mermaids.