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December 6 – Merfolk

Mermaids and mermen are mythological sea creatures, usually with bodies that are half human and half fish. Often sighted by sailors, the mythology of mermaids is common to many cultures. The most famous story is perhaps the Danish fairy tale ‘The Little Mermaid’ published by Hans Christian Andersen in 1837.

Merman illustration from the Text of the Office of the Dead, 16th century  (msBX2095.B00 (ms937)).

This illustration of a merman comes from a collection of devotional works including the Office of the Dead (msBX2095.B00 (ms937)). This 16th century French manuscript would probably have been used for private prayer and is illustrated throughout with illuminated capitals and images of birds, animals, flowers, and of course this merman.

Mermaid by Alastair in The Sphinx by Oscar Wilde, 1920 (rf PR5820.S6).

This illustration of a mermaid is from a collection of poetry, The Sphinx by Oscar Wilde (1920). The illustration is by German artist Alastair (Baron Hans Henning Voigt).

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