Sea Monk, Legendary Monster, 16th Century

Sea Monk, Legendary Monster, 16th Century

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Caption: Woodcut of a marine monster having the head of a Monk, armed and covered with fish scales from Des Monstres et prodiges by Ambroise Para, 1573. Des Monstres is filled with unsubstantiated accounts of sea devils, marine sows, and monstrous animals with human faces. With its extensive discussion of reproduction and illustrations of birth defects, the book invited accusations of pornography. The sea monk, or sometimes monk-fish, was the name given to a sea animal found off the coast of Denmark in 1546. Sea monsters are sea-dwelling mythical or legendary creatures, often believed to be of immense size. Marine monsters can take many forms, including sea dragons, sea serpents, or multi-armed beasts. They can be slimy or scaly and are often pictured threatening ships or spouting jets of water.

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