Unicorns in Java

In 1613, Samuel Purchas published Purchas his pilgrimage. Or Relations of the vvorld and the religions obserued in all ages and places discouered, from the Creation vnto this present In foure partes. The book described the known world covering topics like geography, trade, ethnography, and biology. Purchas was one of the many English authors, editors, and printers who produced the dominant narrative of the early early-modern world that survives today.

Purchas his Pilgrimage Title Page

In his description of the kingdom of Basma on Java (now Indonesia), Purchas mentioned a type of Asian unicorn similar to the unicorns previously described in Asia, like in the the Middle East (see Of the Unicorns of the Temple of Mecca) and India (which typically followed the Greco-Roman tradition, see Ancient Authorities on the Unicorn).

Purchas on the Asian Unicorn

Here were certaine Vnicornes, headed like a Swine, footed like an Elephant, with one horne on their forheads (with which they doe not hurt any, but to that end vse certaine prickles that grow on their tongues:) They delight also in the Myre like Swine.”

The Indonesian unicorn had one horn coming out of his pig-like head, the feet of an elephant, and would attack his enemies with his tongue. They also liked to lay in mud like pigs.



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