Mermaids, baneful or beneficent?

John William Waterhouse: A Mermaid 1900


Ancient mariners feared them, and they were legendary creatures of the sea which some called “sirens“, but Hans Christian Anderson put down pen to paper to record a story that became a beloved fairytale.

What is the story of these creatures, and especially of that one particular little mermaid? The little mermaid who inspired a sculpture that became the national icon of Denmark, and a favorite Disney movie?

Follow the current… It will take you from the shore of Denmark to many other parts of the world… even to Hawaii.

If you would enjoy reading a few interesting facts about these mythological half fish- half human characters who people ancient and modern stories alike, here are a few things that you may not have heard before. They inspired some imaginative and beautiful art, from the renowned Copenhagen icon to romantic paintings of John Waterhouse to the inspired Cartoon artists of Disney, Mermaids will delight you.

Denmark’s Famous Statue

The statue on display has always been a copy. The heirs of the sculpture have the original in hiding.

The Famous Statue of Copenhagen

Den lille havfrue or ‘The little mermaid’

This famous sculpture was a gift from brewer Carl Jacobsen (The Carlsberg Breweries) to the city of Copenhagen. It is made of bronze and was unveiled on August 23, 1913. Situated on a rock at the shore, the statue may be observed quite closely.

I saw it when visiting Copenhagen, and though warned that it would be quite small, the actual size of the statue still is surprising it is so small- the size of maybe a small child.

The statue displayed in Copenhagen harbor has always been a copy; the sculptor’s heirs keep the original at an undisclosed location.

Are they real?

Tell me more about these sea creatures

Edmund Dulac’s Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid was a story that came from the imagination of Hans Christian Anderson, although there were other fairytales and legends of these mythic creatures.

A mermaid is a mythical creature that is half woman and half fish. The name comes from ‘mer’ meaning sea. All sea-faring cultures have mermaid tales.-Myths and Legends The Greeks had stories of “sirens” who were able to enchant their hearers through song. Most of these creatures are malevolent in effect, causing the death or destruction of mariners and their ships.

Mermaid stories appeared in Assyria, around 1000 BC, and they are found in numerous cultures including Arabic, British, Irish, Chinese, and many others.

Often considered unlucky omens, they also are regularly depicted as having beautiful voices which mesmerize their victims.

“Merfolk were used to symbolize eloquence in speech” in art and heraldry. Columbus reported that he saw three mermaids on his first voyage to the Americas.

I am not surprised that many sea faring cultures would have stories of mermaid creatures. There is something about swimming in the sea, with its inherent danger of drowning and its feeling of freedom compared with the heavy gravity of moving on land, that draws both fear and fascination.

To travel on the depths of it brings it even closer to the imagination. How often might men have desired to be able to live both above and under the sea? Many fairy myths hold the idea of another world which holds unwary men captive.

These are the makings of many mermaid tales and legends.

With Hans Christian Anderson’s tale, the tables are turned and it is the poor mermaid who suffers tragically, as she shows self sacrificing love for her human friends. Not all fairytales end with “happily ever after”.

Mako Mermaids

Other Famous Mermaids

Edmund Dulac Illustration

Legendary creatures get around


  • Menanna of the Ottawa Indians.
  • The Selkies of Shetland.
  • The Mermaids of Waiahuakua, Hawaiian mermaids.

Cast Iron Sitting Mermaid Figure Nautical Decor StatueCast Iron Sitting Mermaid Figure Nautical Decor Statue
Selkies are Celtic mythical creatures of a shapeshifter sort. Women who shed their seal skins to become human, but put them back on to disappear into the seas as seals. Their stories have some similarities to those of mermaids. Both are females who live in the sea and sometimes fraternize with humans.

Mesmerizing Color, Decorative and entrancing mermaid accents

Jim Shore Mermaid

What do mermaids represent? – fears or fantasies?

Are mermaids fearful and creatures that belong in horror flicks? Or are they beautiful fantasy creatures that represent the beauty of something different?

 Mermaid Marine Creatures


Mermaid art available at Zazzle- posters, cards, and more for those who love this nautical motif.

Combining the fascination of myth and the beauty of the undersea world, most of us picture mermaids as benign, or at least harmless creatures.

How do you feel about Mermaid Folk?

Which Are Your Favorite Mermaid Movies?

Ariel, the Little Mermaid from Disney

Ariel Fanart


How most children know the story

Disney has made a completely new and expanded rendition of this fairytale and renamed the Little Mermaid, Ariel.

She is very popular with little girls, who have dolls, bedding, and a plethora of items designed with their favorite movie.

Plot Summary: Ariel, a sixteen-year-old mermaid princess, is unhappy with life under the sea and curious about the human world.

She is discouraged in this by her father and various sea creature courtiers.She sees the birthday celebration of Prince Eric aboard his ship, falls in love with him, saves him from drowning in the subsequent sea storm.

Ariel returns to her sea home, sick with unhappiness; after a row with her father she goes to the Sea witch Ursula who makes a deal to give her three days, in which Ariel must receive the ‘kiss of true love’ from Prince Eric. If she fails, she then will belong to the witch. In exchange for her legs she must give up her voice.

In the meantime, Ursula transforms herself into a bewitching young woman to thwart all possibility of Ariel succeeding in her plans. Through misadventures Ariel and her friends manage to break the spell on her voice just in time to win Eric.

The story is not yet over, as the villainess must rise up in threatening power once again, do battle with our heroes until she is finally vanquished.

Afterward Ariel becomes human with legs and all and marries Eric.

This movie was actually planned very early in Disney’s career, soon after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in the late 1930s, but was put on hold. It debuted in 1989, at last.

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