Manticores are one of my favourite mythical creatures. They seem to be related to the lympago, and they show a surprising amount of versatility in their form. Some are winged, and some have tails with iron spikes that they can shoot at enemies or prey. They seem to be consistently giant, red lions, with the face of a man, a triple row of teeth and steel blue eyes. Some manticore descriptions replaced the iron spikes with a scorpion tail and/or wings. Oh, and sometimes they have horns.
Here's an interesting thought...I was thinking about manticores a while ago, and how the colour and the markings on a tiger's face could make one look rather manticore like. Pausanias has apparently had similar thoughts* much earlier than me.
However, I'm wondering about the firing of the spines...I wonder if two explanations got mixed up.
Manticores are known to be ravenous maneaters. That's standard knowledge. Manticore fact. Big, red and highly desirous of human flesh. That seems to be standard for all manticores. (please ignore my Black Manticore, he's not canon).
Studiers of man eating tigers show that a lot of the time tigers that are injured by porcupine quills start going after much easier to hunt humans. And there's a myth about that porcupines shoot their quills. Sometimes the Manticore is known as the Mantiger...
So perhaps an ancient Persian scholar interviewed some Indian guy, both of them perhaps not fluent in each other's language.
"What happened here?" "A man eater!" *makes notes* "Martya xwar" (That's early middle Persian for "to eat man", roughly) "Why does this happen? Why is it killing men and not beasts?" "The great orange cat. The quills hurt!" "The beast shoots quills?" "Yes, that's how!"
Just a theory, anyway. Or that spines and big red man eating cat things were somehow linked, kept popping up in stories. Something to think about.
All of this has been a sneaky way to introduce my new design, King Manticore. Who is big, red and dangerous, and combines the spiked ball theory with the scorpion theory. Enjoy!
<span style="font-size: smaller;">*"The beast described by Ctesias in his Indian history, which he says is called martichoras by the Indians and "man-eater" by the Greeks, I am inclined to think is the tiger. But that it has three rows of teeth along each jaw and spikes at the tip of its tail with which it defends itself at close quarters, while it hurls them like an archer's arrows at more distant enemies; all this is, I think, a false story that the Indians pass on from one to another owing to their excessive dread of the beast. (Description, xxi, 5)"
I initially drew this design using a brush and ink. I scanned in the black and white image, and thought about submitting it as a Woot! shirt entry. This meant that I'd be limited to 6 colours, plus the shirt colour, so I coloured it accordingly, fooled around a bit and decided on a warm pallet on what's called "Cardinal" coloured shirt.
Time passed and I decided that it was too much of a pain to put onto woot, because it needed massive compression to be accepted by their system. So I got all fed up, and let it sit for a long time. Until today. I might put it onto my Zazzle site as well. Must investigate this Red Bubble site, as well.