Needless to say, Mermaids are having a moment. I’ve been unable to resist snapping up every mermaid shirt around for…three years now… and I’m so glad that everyone else around me seems to have mermaid fever as well.
For the ladies who also want to move under the sea, we at Pakaloha have created a brand new print just for you.
So in honor of Pakaloha’s new print, I’ve put together a brief history of mermaids.
Mermaids have appeared in legends all over the world. From Africa to Asia, women with fish tails have appeared in folktales, myths, and the sailor’s stories for centuries.
The most popular mermaid story is, of course, Hans Christian Anderson’s ‘The Little Mermaid’. We’ve all seen the famous Disney movie, where Ariel trades her voice for a pair of legs. (Bad deal, in my opinion). But how many of you guys have read the super tragic original version? (Spoiler alert: she dies).
The first stories of mermaids are from Assyria, about a goddess who took the form of a fish after the death of her mortal lover. (And I thought my last breakup was dramatic!) Even the waters could not hide her divine beauty, so she settled on a compromise and became a mermaid instead.
Many people associate mermaids with their beautiful singing voices…a trait influenced by the Sirens of Greek mythology. Fun fact: Sirens are actually bird women! Known for seducing men with their enchanting voices, they lead sailors to their doom by leading them to sink their boats. Mermaids have also been associated with this, and there are legends of bloodthirsty mermaids lurking off the coast of Scotland, Africa, and Japan! There are also stories of mermaids saving sailors, or teaching humans new kinds of medicine.
But mermaids and sirens are not the only women that live under the water: the Scottish Selkie, the French Melusine, and the Russian Rusalka are only a few varieties of water-dwelling women around the world.
The Selkie is the most famous of these. They are women who turn into seals and live beneath the waves. When they return to their human form on the shore, they leave seal skins behind. They say that if you can find a Selkie’s skin, you will keep the Selkie from returning to the sea. Rumors abound with the tragic stories of fishermen who commit this crime.
Some even say they have seen real mermaids. Sailors claim to have seen mermaids off the sides of their ships for centuries. Many believe that sailors were only seeing manatees or dolphins, and that time away from land had made them…optimistic. As recently as 1842, people believed that mermaids were real, and famous circus operator P.T. Barnum had one! The Fiji Mermaid was displayed in New York for a year before being destroyed in a fire. Mr. Barnum claimed it was a mummified mermaid caught off the coast of Fiji…I have my doubts.
You can order Pakaloha’s mermaid print in any of our amazing styles. What kind of mermaid will you be?