Notes: The Altai Eurasian griffin or ouroboros-dragon-serpent eating its own tail icons

Terra-cotta griffins in frieze, Photo: Buffalo Museum of Science

Terra-cotta griffins in frieze, Photo: Buffalo Museum of Science

The griffin in its earlier forms had the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion.

According to the Illustrated Dictionary of Egyptian Mythology, the “griffin was known in Egypt before 3300 BC and is possibly more ancient still.” It was a symbol of protective power.

Another early griffin depiction is a wood-carving (see photo below) found in a Saka-Scythian burial mound of a 2,500 year old warrior’s mummy in the Altai mountains, in an area bordering Mongolia, China and Russia.

This wood carving depicting two griffins was also found in the grave. It was...

This wood carving with two griffins was originally coated with a layer of tin

In the Bronze Ages in Eurasia, the griffin seems to have taken a form that sometimes merged with that of the Ouroboros-dragon-serpent eating its own tail and that was seen in the earliest jade depictions of the dragon.   This image appears to have spread west as well, persisting through the Middle Images.

Engraving by Lucas Jennis (de), in alchemical tract titled De Lapide Philosophico

In the Middle Ages, the griffin image evolved further forms and adopted various associations and meanings, see  Monsters and Heraldry – chap XIII of “A Complete Guide to Heraldry” by Arthur Charles Fox-Davies

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