In Persian tradition, a noble and beneficent mythical bird.
Initially a griffin-like (lion-bodied) bird, with a formidable beak containing sharp teeth, the Simurgh later assumed the shape of a true bird, one with glorious plumage and immense wings. Its touch was believed, in Persian folklore, to heal instantly even the most terrible of wounds.
This giant birdlike monster was supposed to be so old that it had seen the world destroyed three times over, and thus possesses the knowledge of all the ages.
The original home of the Simurgh was supposedly the fabled Tree of Knowledge, whose branches were festooned with the seeds of every plant that has ever existed.
When the Simurgh took flight, it was said, its powerful ascent shook the tree's branches so violently that the seeds were scattered throughout the world, bringing a wealth of valuable plants to mankind. When the Simurgh is near, the air is darkened; the bird is like a cloud "whose rain are corals."
Later, according to myth, the Simurgh nested in seclusion on the sacred Persian mountain of Alburz, far beyond the climbing abilities of any man.
According to the legend, the Simurgh had the gift of human speech. This mythological bird also had an active role in ancient Persian folklore as a guardian and teacher of heroes, whom where usually given a Simurgh feather to be used to call upon it, in a moment of distress or desperate need.
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Sources: (1) Houtsma, M. Th., E.J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913-1936, Brill Academic Publishers; (2) Sparrow, Giles, Field Guide to Fantastic Creatures, Book Sales, Inc.
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