27th Apr 2016 - Style
The Mermaid's Mystical Allure
The mermaid; a mythical aquatic creature with the upper body of a beautiful young woman and the sleek lower body and tail of a fish that has captivated mankind’s imagination and appeared in our folklore for thousands of years.
From the Middle English word mere (meaning sea) and maid (young woman), mermaids are, to us, a symbol of the beauty and fragility of the sea. With water covering so much of the planet and with such a limited knowledge of what may lie beneath, it is little wonder that ancient mariners believed in the existence of such beings. Ancient Babylonian and Greek religions featured merman deities, whilst mermaids featured in Greek mythology alongside their less well-meaning cousins the sirens who attempted to lure Ulysses’ ship onto the rocks as they crossed the Aegean Sea in Homer’s Odyssey.
Mermaids appear in the folklore of sea faring cultures across the world, from Europe and the Mediterranean to west and southern Africa and across to China and the Far East. In 1493 Christopher Columbus described sighting a mermaid near Haiti, and it is thought that most historical sightings were in fact marine mammals such as manatees or dugongs mistaken by sailors who had been cooped up at sea for weeks or months on end. In Celtic and West Country folklore mermaids were sensitive beings that could also bring good fortune, as in the tale of the The Old Man of Cury in which an old man carries a mermaid back to the sea after she has been stranded next to a rock by the falling tide and has three wishes granted. The old man is gifted a comb from the mermaid’s hair with which he could comb the water to summon his sea-dwelling friend.
In contemporary culture mermaids are a classic pin-up girl; an object of fascination and desire that can never be realized. Often featured in the old school/American traditional tattoo style that was popularized by sailors returning from Polynesia, mermaids were an ode to the draw of the sea and a pin-up that represented both beauty and danger.
We feature mermaids throughout our work to represent the call of the oceans and the need for them to be cared for. If you look on the inside of the pockets of our shorts you will find our Rosy (from an original sketch by our friend, illustrator Greg Heinimann) printed there asking you to do your bit to protect her underwater home by considering the oceans and recycling your shorts, and you will also find a beautiful mermaid hidden in our William Morris inspired print. The ever-popular Morris print will be appearing again this year on our Braunton tailored swim short in a new sunshine yellow and chalk colourway as well as in a re-run of our classic vintage colour, should you wish to wrap your legs in a classic undersea scene this summer. We hope that our mermaids will serve to remind you of the fragile beauty and mystery that exists in our oceans, and inspire you to look after them.