Unicorns or When the World was Enchanted

The Unicorn When man wants to catch her
... He comes into the forest with a virgin
Who Unveils her breast
Releasing a perfume that the unicorn senses
She approaches the virgin and kisses her nipple
The unicorn, falling asleep next to the virgin
Goes unknowlingly to her death
The man seeing her sleeping, kills her.
> Philippe de Thaon
vers 1121-1135
extrait de son” Bestiaire” le premier ancien français, transcrit ici en français moderne. Voir “Poètes et Romanciers du Moyen-Age” col.La Pléiade


Tapisserie de Strasbourg 1500-10
Bâle : Musée historique

In completing this page of the site, we should remember that

1 The theme of this poem is probably the oldest of all poems featuring a unicorn. It orginates from Legend and in the middle ages was given a christian symbolism. The most majestic example of this poem is conveyed in the tapestry La chasse à la Licorne. Housed in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of the Cloisters Collection?.
Numerous examples on the same theme were seen over the course of the centuries up to the present day.
2 The theme portrayed in the tapestries kept in the Cluny Museum in Paris, “La Dame à La Licornecirca1500 is, of course, completely different. This particular tapestry conveys the pleasure of the five senses, the sixth of which La Dame renounces, that of the pleasure of outer beauty.
The unicorn appears also in other circumstances but much less frequently, for example :

La Licorne au Jardin d’Eden, Bartholomeus Anglicus vers 1400
La Licorne parmi les animaux charmés par Orphée, Anna-Maria Thelott XVIIe
La Licorne chevauchée par un homme sauvage, Albrecht Dürer
Les Licornes Gustave Moreau
Le berger de Licornes Paul Sérusier
Les crânes de Licornes Daniel Spoerri


Site du Musée du Moyen-Age - Musée de Cluny- : http://www.musee-moyenage.fr

un site d’ethnozoologie

1 :
La Chasse à La Licorne, Illustration de Jean-François Daniau
2 :
Tapisserie de Strasbourg 1500-10 ; Bâle : Musée historique
3 :
Tapisserie La chasse à la Licorne, Cloisters, Metropolitan Muséum (N.Y.)

© 2000-12 Marthe et Jean-Luc Tahon website - Reproduction by whatever means of any of these photographs or designs is formally forbidden without autorisation.