Thursday, 14 November 2013

Serious Unicorns

The mythical unicorn is one of Scotland's official symbols. When the Crown of England and the Crown of Scotland were merged into a single British monarchy by the Acts of Union in 1707, the coat of arms for the newly formed Great Britain featured the English lion and the Scottish unicorn in equally supportive roles.

Our Canadian coat of arms features the same lion and unicorn imagery, since Britain's monarch is also the Canadian head of state.


The imposing main entrance of Canada's parliament buildings in Ottawa is flanked by larger-than-life statues of the heraldic lion and unicorn:



I suppose the lion is roaring and the unicorn is . . . whinnying? I don't know what sound unicorns are traditionally supposed to make but something horse-like would seem to be most likely.



These serious unicorns represent purity of heart, freedom and the ancient right of kings. They do not fart rainbows and glitter like today's silly unicorns. Sometimes it's important to remember their original dignity and symbolism.

[First photo is from the internet; all others taken by Debra She Who Seeks in Ottawa, 2010]

33 comments:

mxtodis123 said...

Fascinating story and statues. They are, indeed, very powerful looking.
Mary

jadedj said...

D, seriously, for real...check this out: http://news.yahoo.com/rarely-seen-asian-unicorn-caught-camera-171513191.html?soc_src=mediacontentsharebuttons

Laurie said...

true for true, I just wish the unicorns tongue wasn't lolling out of its mouth, it doesn't add to its beauty.

Adam said...

you almost don't even notice the unicorn in the artwork until someone points it out.

DEZMOND said...

such an interesting info, Debs! I didn't know there was a Scottish unicorn and I love the explanation of the meaning and symbolism

Jeanne said...

I just knew the Unicorn had to have Scottish origins!!! (I am of Scottish descent) And the Scots were definitely known for their fierceness!

Linda Wildenstein said...

great info as always. Scotlands kings, not that they had much of a choice in their circumstance at the time, didn't really want the unicorn to represent them all on the new symbol. But the unicorn came to represent many strong and heroic deeds to the Scots. If you look at the thistle and the unicorn as the thorny joiners that the Scots became then you can see the logic. There's more than one Scotsman in my family tree. Thanks for you photos and your info. Oma Linda

A Beer For The Shower said...

Ha, that unicorn is making the face my dog makes when he's worn out from running. Very cool statues. That lion is incredibly menacing-looking.

heartinhand said...

I have a faded unicorn tattoo on my shoulder left over from a bad decision I made in the 80s. I was in a heavy unicorn phase. LOL!
I think I want to go to Ottawa.

Willow said...

Yes dignified unicorns and just because their tounge is out does not mean they are "twerking" like Miley Cyrus

LL Cool Joe said...

OMG now I know where Miley got the tongue pose from!! Classy! :D

I prefer the Lion, he's a little more macho. :D

Jenn said...

We've toured around Ottawa a few times and I don't think I've ever noticed these statues. Shame on me! I was likely herding kids at the time, and likely missed most of my surroundings... will have to pay better attention next time!

jaz@octoberfarm said...

love the statues but the unicorn looks like it is about to hurl!

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

Yes, unicorns have gotten silly over the years. Their true symbolism is actually quite impressive.

You know, I never really noticed the unicorn on the coat of arms. I thought it was a horse!

Leeanna said...

Seriously my husband is from Scottish roots. He's kinda proud of that.

The statues are really regal looking. Although I think the lion is using the shield to ... well never mind. The unicorn looks like it's laughing at the lion.

Fundy Blue said...

Awesome images, SWS! Unicorns have always fascinated me! I think of them in a serious sense; but, as a third grade teacher, I saw over and over that a unicorn with a rainbow was the favorite thing for a third grade girl to draw and color! Closely followed by butterflies!

Riot Kitty said...

Thanks for the background! I think that is so cool. We just have old white guys and Masonic symbols.

Insomniac’s Attic said...

Yeah, that unicorn doesn't look remotely like the farting rainbow type. He/She looks like he/she would bite your head off, given the least provocation... ;o)

I like the old-school unicorns better, myself.

Jim said...

Great photos Debra! And thanks for the 'history tune-up'!!
That lion and unicorn are quite imposing figures,eh?

Anne Johnson said...

Both faeries and unicorns have been made into playthings. Neither are. But putting seriousness aside, and being a cheeky American to boot, I think that unicorn looks like it's saying, "Blaaaaaah." Probably it hasn't been happy since James I.

Magic Love Crow said...

Excellent information Deb! Thank you!

Scarlett Wonderland said...

Hmmm, I don't know, to me it looks like that unicorn is not so much whinneying, but coughing up glitter and rainbows... x

Birdie said...

The unicorn looks like it is being choked with its bulging eyes and tongue hanging out.

CraveCute said...

I love what Scarlett SAid! LOL! Great info Debra, my Scottish family crest only has a boring deer head. ;(

Bird said...

Quite right and awesome post. Love the serious unicorns.

Robin Larkspur said...

I too am of Scottish heritage, and love the idea of Scottish unicorns. I believe their natural diet is haggis. Fact!
Great photos of the two statues, those must be amazing to see in person!
Hail, the mighty unicorn!

Elsie said...

Those statues are gorgeous. I love architecture like that. Thanks for sharing them with us, Deb.

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

I've never seen the coat of arms. It's very elaborate. I like it, along with the statues.

xoRobyn

Cheryl said...

That is interesting. I had never noticed the unicorns. I am sure that at some point, I have seen the coat of arms, but I never paid enough attention to notice the unicorn.

DWei said...

I really want to run over and stick something in that Unicorn's mouth.

It's so derpy looking.

Kay G. said...

I just read all your comments and I was surprised that no one mentioned "The Glass Menagerie".
You should read it, it's good.

Ol'Buzzard said...

I am disappointed: I thought unicorns did fart rainbows. Now you tell me they are just a horse with a horn.
the Ol'Buzzard

Guillaume said...

Actually, the lion roars his mouth closed, so this lion is yawning.