We’ve all heard tales of magical water creatures living deep below the surface, swimming freely throughout the waters of the world. From Disney’s The Little Mermaid to the Starbuck’s logo, mermaids are a huge part of today’s popular culture. They’ve inspired some of the most wonderful fairy tales and captured the imaginations of sailors all across the globe.
Costume SuperCenter did some digging – or rather, diving – into the depths of mermaid lore to find out just how popular and widespread mermaid mania really is! So before you hop into your Ariel flippers and swim off, check out this infographic and discover exactly what mermaids across the globe are like!
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- Ningyo (Japan)
In Japan, mermaids are known as Ningyo. They differ greatly from the usual visual of them, being described as human-faced giant fish with the mouth of a monkey. Sometimes they even have horns and fangs, and it’s said if you eat one, you’ll achieve eternal youth and beauty, but they can also bring terrible misfortune if caught.
- Selkie (Ireland)
Selkies are Scottish creatures that appear as seals when in the water, but can shed their sealskin to become human when on land. According to legend, they’ve married humans when their sealskins were stolen, only to leave their husbands and be called back to the sea when the skin was returned.
- Rusalka (Russia)
Said to be the spirits of girls who died violent deaths, the Rusalka attempt to lure men and children to a watery grave, sometimes even strangling their victims with their long hair. They’re perceived as having translucent pale skin, giving them a ghostly appearance.
- Iara (Brazil)
A single being, Iara is said to be the “Lady of the Waters,” an immortal, brown-skinned and green-eyed water snake-like woman. She’s often blamed for accidents in the Amazon, and is believed to lure sailors to her underwater palace.
- Melusine (France)
Often found in medieval European tales, the Melusine is supposedly a woman who was punished for attempted revenge with a serpentine tale, cursed to live as a sea fairy. In some legends she even has wings, and is actually the inspiration for the Starbucks logo.