L’unicorno, il cui nome deriva dal latino unicornis cioè solo corno, viene rappresentato nella simbologia antica e medievale come un cervo bianco con criniera di cavallo e un corno a spirale sulla fronte.

In uno scritto risalente al 400 a.C., lo storico greco Ctesia, descrive un animale selvaggio con un corno dalle proprietà terapeutiche, fatto che risale probamente a descrizioni male interpretate del rinoceronte indiano.

L’iconografia occidentale pone il corno sulla fronte dell’animale, sede dello spirito e con ciò spiritualizza l’originario simbolo sessuale.

L’unicorno è anche simbolo di purezza e forza. Miniature e arazzi medievali illustrano che può essere catturato solo con l’aiuto di una vergine, nel cui grembo esso si rifugia fiduciosamente. In seguito viene imprigionato dai cacciatori e ucciso.


La simbologia lo interpreta come il concepimento di Cristo, da parte della Vergine Maria, e la successiva morte sulle croce del Redentore.
L’angelo Gabriele è rappresentato come un cacciatore che spinge l’unicorno verso la Vergine con l’aiuto di cani da caccia che si chiamano “fede, amore, speranza” oppure come le virtù cardinali: “prudenza, forza, giustizia, temperanza.

L’interpretazione simbolica cristiana risale ad antiche saghe e testi devozionali paleocristiani e in seguito viene riccamente raffigurata nei bestiari medioevali.

Molto spesso si parla del presunto potere curativo del suo corno che, anche in forma di polvere, guarirebbe da qualunque veleno.

In realtà probabilmente venivano usati denti di narvalo, corna di orice o falsi corni costruiti unendo e intagliando ossa di animali diversi.

La funzione di antidoto contro il veleno viene descritta nel “Fisiologo paleocristiano”:
prima che altri animali si abbeverino si avvicina il serpente e sputa il suo veleno nell’acqua, ma quegli animali che lo sanno non osano bere. Attendono l’unicorno e quando questi giunge, entra nel lago e traccia il segno della croce con il suo corno. Ciò cancella l’effetto del veleno.

Soltanto dopo che l’unicorno ha bevuto, possono dissetarsi anche tutti gli altri animali.

L’unicorno rappresentato nell’iconografia cinese è solo in parte somigliante a quello europeo, infatti è simile a un cervo con coda di bue e con un corno peloso sulla fronte. Come simbolo esso esprime clemenza, fortuna, grazia e soprattutto figlianza maschile.

Il nesso occidentale unicorno-vergine, equivale alla rappresentazione della pia dea Kuan-yin, che troneggia su un unicorno disteso.

Nell’iconografia alchemica l’unicorno simboleggia l’essenza originaria “mercurius” che deve essere portata a unità superiore con il leone “sulphur”.

52 pensiero su “UNICORNO”
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