The sea has always played a prominent role in culture and mythology, especially in maritime nations. The Gods of the sea are some of the most powerful and often represent the dual conflicting roles of the sea as both life giving, as well as life destroying. The Greek mythology included the daughters of the sea god Phorcys who were sea nymphs who possessed the bodies of birds and the heads of women. Phorcys was the son of Potus and Gaia. His wife was Ceto with whom he is well known for fathering a slew of monsterous children known as the Phorcydes. In Hellenistic-Roman mosaics, Phorcys was depicted as a fish-tailed merman with crab claws for legs and spiked skin.
Mermaids and Sirens claim a long history that dates back to some of man’s earliest civilizations and are found in almost all Western cultures, as well as traces of the theme in the East. In Germany you find the Meriminni, in Iceland the Marmenill, in Denmark the Maremind and in Ireland the Merow. The Matsyanaris, figures sometimes found sculptured in Indian temples, are nymphs with fishes’ tails, and superstitious Chinese sailors firmly believe in the existence of similar creatures in the China sea.
In myth and folklore, mermaids are supernatural, sea-dwelling creatures with the head and upper body of a beautiful woman and the lower body of a fish. The mermaid is frequently described as appearing above the surface of the water and combing her long hair with one hand while holding a mirror in the other. Mermaids, in the numerous tales told of them, often foretell the future, sometimes under compulsion; give supernatural powers to human beings; or fall in love with human beings and entice their mortal lovers to follow them beneath the sea.
Similarities frequently exist between the stories concerning mermaids and those told about the Sirens. The Sirens of Homer’s Odyssey are often depicted as mermaids in contemporary art. Sirens were reported to have such sweet voices that mariners who heard their songs would run aground on the rocks on which the beautiful nymphs sang.
Mermaids, sirens and other sea going mythological creatures play a prominent role in the works created by Pacific Art Tile.