In the middle of a hot summer, it’s refreshing to think about anything aquatic. What could be better than visualizing the world from deep in the ocean by taking a look at mermaids? Let’s treat ourselves to a dip into the salty sea and cool off with some myth and mystery, shall we?
Mermaids, beautifying the water for millennia
The concept of half-fish, half-human creatures has been surprisingly popular across time and cultures. (The name, however, is Old English, combining mere (sea), and maid.) If there was exposure to the ocean for ancient peoples, there was probably a mythical being swimming around in it.
The first recorded versions of actual mermaids come from Assyria. You know the tale – it’s a familiar one: Goddess meets boy, Goddess accidentally kills boy, Goddess throws herself into the lake and tries to turn into a fish. First emerging around 1000 BC, this version hung around for centuries, eventually becoming the Greek Darketo. Eventually, she inspired the idea of Sirens.
Sirens, in Greek mythology, were not particularly friendly. In fact, they were doomed daughters of the River God, and they had some big powers that they wielded against unwary sailors and fishermen, singing them into states where they forgot their memories and were led to their deaths.
In the United Kingdom, ocean mermaids continued on a similar path, foretelling bad weather and serving as bad omens. Some were reported to be huge: up to 2000 feet long. For the renegades who ventured up rivers to fresh water, their encounters with humans were sometimes gentler. Some helped humans cure diseases, married them, and converted to the life of a good Catholic farmwife.
Rusalkas beset ancient Slavs with alluring, if green-tinged looks, calling young men into lakes and rivers and drowning them. So many malevolent mermaids! Where did the sweeter versions that made their way into Disney movies come from? Well, Asian cultures seemed to have pleasant versions, with mermaid princesses appearing in Japanese, Thailand, Cambodia, and Korea.
7 facts you didn’t know about mermaids
Today, mermaids are still popular, even beloved. There are so many wonderful facts about them, we had a hard time picking out the best to share with you – but here are our 7 favorites – illustrated with our best mermaid mosaic art, of course!
- There’s an annual Mermaid Convention
Every year, in Sacramento, the Merfolk community gathers for a multi-day “Shell-abration”. They gather at the local Dive Bar that hosts daily swimming shows, parade in the Mermaid Promenade, participate in lectures, photoshoots, and a costumed ball. This wonderful chance to Mer-mingle was virtual-only this year, but will be back in 2021.
2. Mermaids have special powers
We’re not sure who is the final decision on what these 5 special powers are, but they’re pretty enviable. Not all mermaids have every power, but – let’s face it – any one of them would be great. They aren’t born with these powers, but gain them at special moments, or at the full moon.
- Hydrokinesis: Controlling water with the mind or hand movements
- Aerokinesis: Mermaids can control the winds
- Hydro-thermokinesis: The skill of heating and boiling water with no tools
- Hydro-cryokinesis: Here’s a nice one for summer: They can freeze or chill water and create ice!
- Pyrokinesis: The ability to summon lightning – and start fires
3. Mermaids should be vegetarians
As a combination of both human and fish, it’s a bad idea for any mermaid to dine on either. It makes them deathly ill. If you’re planning on hosting a mermaid for a dinner date, be prepared with delicacies of the fruit and vegetable kind.
Perhaps the merfolk discovered the nutritional qualities of kelp and seaweed a long time ago – or trained their willing subjects to rustle up some fresh produce on demand.
4. Some societies believe that they descend from mermaids
For example, the Pangasinense in the Philippines believed that a human married the mermaid Queen of the Sea, and went on to rule humanity (and have children). Other Pacifica legends suggest that mermaids and mermen dropped their tails and gained the ability to walk on land in the ancient past.
The Chinese Yuezhong jianwen tells a tale of a fisherman who saved and married a mermaid, or 海女 “sea woman”. The account, published in the 1700s, reports that she stayed with him as a wife until his death, presumably bearing his children.
5. Mermaids are the outgoing sex among Merfolk
Although there are many tales of mermaids singing, enticing, enchanting, and generally interacting quite boldly with humanity, their male counterparts seem to be introverts. Perhaps this is because the females got all the good looks in their species. Mermaids are renowned for their beauty and lovely voices – mermen are usually portrayed as downright unattractive. This is probably the most compelling reason for why they stay hidden under the water.
6. The idea for “The Little Mermaid” came from an 18th century Germany novella
Originally titled “Undine”, the fairy tale was written by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué, and was incredibly popular. Since its original publication, it has been adapted into operas, musical pieces, ballet, film, and some incredible mermaid mosaic art.
7. Aquamarines are fallen mermaid tears
It’s true that the color aquamarine is used frequently in mermaid mosaic wall art, but it’s also linked to mermaid legend. Its name literally means “sea water”, and the blue-green gemstone that bears its name is said to form from the tears of mermaids. Consequently, it is believed to protect sailors or anyone who has fallen into the water.
So, what’s your favorite mermaid from our wide range of mosaic art? We’ve shared just a small sample from our catalog – but we can also make custom mermaid art to your specifications! Working from the artwork you supply, or by customizing one of our current mosaic designs, we can create a mermaid that resembles someone you know, or just a fantasy from your own ocean dreams!