Goddess of Sea Serpents
by Eric Whollem
earth paints on white clay; ceramic oxides
Collection of the artist.
6" x 5"
Photo copyright by the artist.
FACTS AND FANCY
Various authors such as Erik Ludvigsen Pontopiddan and
Bernard Heuvelmans have written about sea serpents, but
have given those of us who prefer the delights of imagination
a rather stale tale of "scientific" nomenclature.
Sea serpents are thus tagged with labels like achaeoceti.
megophias, or Heuvelman's fanciful designation of
hyperhydra egedai, a pseudo Latin tag for a giant
otter that comes down from Nordic seafarers' tales.
Thus we have sea serpents linked with long-necked seals,
kraken, giant otters and gargantuan fossil fish.
Huge long-necked seals (megophias) do exist. Colonies
of them live off the coast of Peru. On some Peruvian
pottery are designs that look like Brontosauruses. Could
these be megophias?
THE INDONESIAN KIMODO
Heuvelmans does admit that the kimodo dragon of Indonesia
is in fact a real sea serpent, as it is a reptile known to swim
sometimes out to sea. He attempts to discredit the sea serpent
but in the course of his argument thus gives a proof of a real
example of the being he is trying to disprove.
Kimodo dragons are real. They are subject of numerous video
documentaries. As ocean going reptiles, they are a good
example of a real life sea serpent.
LEVIATHAN AND BEHEMOTH
Pontopiddan was a bishop in the church of Norway. He
is another discreditor of mermaids and sea serpents.
In the Bible Leviathan and Behemoth are described as great
sea creatures. Whether these are whales is not known for sure,
of course. The story of Jonah being swallowed by a whale
is parcel of our western scriptural tradition. The Jonah story
is also found in the Koran.
GIANT SEA SNAKES
Giant sea snakes exist. Examples include the Hydrophiidae,
the Hydrophinae and the Laticaudinae. These are all related
to the cobra and are quite poisonous. Cobras are sacred in
India where they are linked to the Nagas, or sea serpent
demigods. The disciples of Buddha are called Mahanagas,
or Great Sea Serpents.
The ureus, or cobra emblem, seen in the middle of the crown
of the Egyptian pharaohs may have been intended as a sea
serpent, as Nu, the sea god of the Egyptians was a sea cobra.
The Mesopotamians had a legend of a sea serpent goddess,
Tiamat. Her name is given to the Red Sea, which is called
Tihamat by Arabic people in our own time.
Readers interested in posts of my Ceramic Sculpture should view: