Sea Unicorn

As you may (or may not) know, my dissertation is on the history of the 17th-century Caribbean, specifically Barbados.

In reading a 1666 book on the Caribbean yesterday, I came across this image:

[Picture of a fish with a full-on unicorn head, horn and all.  Underneath it reads, “Sea Unicornes”]

One of the things I love about the 17th-century Caribbean is that the English knew almost nothing about that place and attributed mystical, monstrous qualities to it (I have read for real reports of Mermaids, for instance).  Oh, the early modernists.

Here is the introduction to the section devoted to this here Sea Unicorn:

[It says: CHAP XVIII.  A Particular Description of the Sea-Unicorn which was cast ashore at the Haven of the Tortoise0-Island, in the Year 1644.  and a pleasant Relation, by way of Digression, of several beautiful and rare Horns brought lately from Davis-streight; with an account of the Country, and the Dispositions of the Inhabitants.  We cannot better conclude the Account we had to give of the Sea-monsters, then with a description of so remarkable and miraculous a Fish, as may justly deserve a particular Chapter to treat of it: It is the Sea-Unicorne…]

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