Bestiary 4



Dendan is a monstrous fish from the “Arabian Nights”. Larger than a camel, completely black, it is carnivorous and dangerous to the mermen. In the tale “Abdullah the fisherman and Abdullah the merman” the fat of the dendan’s liver is made into an ointment to cover the body of the fisherman so he can live underwater when he goes to visit his friend merman. Dendan dies instantly when he eats human flesh or hears human voice. Mermen bait them with pieces of drowned humans which are deadly poisonous to the dendan.



also called Peridexion, is a tree native to India. Its fruit is very sweet and agreeable. Doves love it and live in the tree. Dragon loves to feast on doves but it is afraid of perindeus and of its shadow. It cannot even approach it.

Aldrovandus identified it with “deadly white hellebore, or Christmas Rose”, famous then as purge, poison, heart stimulant and a medicine for insanity. The Oxford Dictionary of English, in all its 16 volumes, never heard of it.

Perindeus is possibly related to Upas Tree of Java (?Antiaris toxicaria), fabled member of the fig family, which was said to destroy all life within radius of 15 miles.



An all-providing animal created by the American cartoonist Al Capp in his popular comic strip “Li’l Abner”. Word “schmo”  comes from theatrical scene where it’s used for a person midway between a dope and the one who rushes where angels fear to tread. In a period of runaway inflation and radio giveaway programs the shmoo combined tall tale with a satirical fable, the American dream of getting something for nothing and economics of abundance. Akin to magic, grateful, helpful animals and magic objects that are source of inexhaustible plenty, this savoury, ham shaped and slightly phallic-looking animal with a rapturous smile on its face eats nothing, multiplies rapidly, and drops dead out of sheer joy when looked at hungrily. It lays fresh eggs, gives finest creamery butter and A-grade milk, makes steaks when broiled and boneless chicken when boiled or fried, its eyes make suspender buttons and its hide makes finest leather. It solved the inflation problem in the underfed hamlet of Dogpatch in Ozarks, but it upset the national economy and therefore the shmoo had to be killed off and its creator was accused of “shmoocialism”.



In the original Greek Psysiologus, Terebolem are fire-stones from a certain Oriental mountain, probably the loadstone, magical bridge between stone and iron. They are male and female. When they are far apart, the fire in them does not catch light. But when by chance the female approach the male, at once the flame bursts out and everything around that mountain blazes. A piece of terebolem attracts money, success and love. It also draws pain out of body.

Their magical properties were harnessed since antiquity. Alexander the Great distributed loadstones to his troops to protect them from jinn. Chinese made wedding rings out of it, to ensure survival of happy marriage. Christian legend has it that the stone, upon which Christ’s body rested for three days following the crucifixion, was a loadstone. Its miraculous properties were revealed to Godfry of Bouillon when he led the First Crusade to Jerusalem. While praying in the Christ’s Sepulchre, voice whispered to him that victory was assured if he’d carry away a bit of the stone. He listened to the voice, and he won the battle. Kings who followed him didn’t listen to the advice and The Holy Land was lost.

Loadstones have memory, consciousness, intelligence, wit and especially soul. They need to be fed – fine iron shot, iron fillings, or, as Hoodoo says, “Magnetic sand”. A small piece of loadstone is a traditional talisman of hookers, to attract rich and free spending customers. Dressed in oils of basil, bergamot and lavender and sprinkled with magnetic sand and a pinch of cinnamon, it was worn to charm up additional business.

My rendition of terebolem borrows imagery from the classics, for which I offer no apology. Studying the old masters I discovered that they all freely borrowed from each other, rarely acknowledging the influences.



Tagalog speaking people of the Central Philippines have Tikbalang, a creature inducing nightmare. Its head, neck, rump, genitals and legs are stallion’s, while the arms and torso are human. Always a male, with strong sexual connotations, it is used to scare girls. A good friend of a giant Capre, it stinks strongly, which gives him away when he is hiding. It is a passionate smoker and it can be tamed.  It is saids that – “a daring youth can tame a Tikbalang by grabbing it by its mane, mounting it and sitting tight. The Tikbalang will leap into the air, trying to throw the rider and then it will soar among the stars until it is weary. Eventually it will glide back to the rider’s front yard and becomes his slave, ploughing his fields, reaping the grain and bringing it in,” (from contemporary oral sources).

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