Qupqugiaq-Tardigrade

AliFigments: A Bestiary

January 1st 1909.  Ten-Footed Bear.  Tarak told us Wednesday evening that the tenfooted bear lives mostly in the water like a seal.  Looks like a polar bear all but the ten legs.  When he walks on ice the five feet of each side track after each other so the bear makes a double track like a sled.  Walking the bear often gets his legs tangled up; there are so many, he can’t manage them all.  Once a man was followed by a ten-footed bear.  The man walked between two cakes of ice and the bear was caught in the crevice … Read More

Noppera-bo

AliFigments: A Bestiary

She appeared to be a slight and graceful person, handsomely dressed; and her hair was arranged like that of a young girl of good family.  ‘O-jochu,’ he exclaimed, approaching her, ‘O-jochu, do not cry like that! … Tell me what the trouble is; and if there be any way to help you I shall be glad to help you.’  (He really meant what he said; for he was a very kind man.)  But she continued to weep – hiding her face from him with one of her long sleeves … Then that O-jochu turned around, and dropped her sleeve, and … Read More

Panotii

AliFigments: A Bestiary

She is one of the Panotii.  She has ears so big that she can hear evil.  Sometimes she goes out with no clothes on, because her ears are big enough to wrap around her and keep her warm. She lives on an island along with the other Panotii.  Noted cataloguer of made-up beings, Pliny the Elder, wrote that this place, this All-Ears Island, lay somewhere within landlocked Asia.  Another ancient geographer, Pomponius Mela, thought it was one of the Orkney Isles.  Thankfully, the mapmakers of the Hereford Mappa Mundi, a 700-year-old map inked onto vellum, cleared up the matter.  Their … Read More

Figments

AliFigments: A Bestiary

One of my all-time favourite books is Jorge Luis Borges’ The Book of Imaginary Beings.  I’ve talked before about my love of bestiaries, and this one is perhaps the finest ever compiled.  It takes a scattered, all-inclusive approach to the creatures it describes, with Borges hopping about from anecdote to anecdote and placing ‘classical’ beasts alongside those imagined by some of his favourite contemporary authors.  I’m building a little collection of bestiaries, at the head of which it proudly sits. For a while now I’ve wanted to start blogging about made-up animals and unique creatures – monsters, for lack of … Read More

Reprobus

AliFigments: A Bestiary

Medieval Europeans believed in many strange peoples inhabiting the uncharted lands beyond the edges of their maps.  The medieval conception of the world would have been of a charted haven surrounded by boundless strangeness.  Living in the far distance were all manner of wonderful civilizations: the one-legged people, the people whose faces looked out of their chests, and the people with the heads of dogs. It’s impossible to be sure of how these stories originated.  No doubt they’re due in part to a fear of the unknown, to medieval man’s sense that Christendom was an island in a sea of … Read More