The Mermaid Atlas: Merfolk of the World

Publisher: Laurence King

All over the world, from Africa to Asia, Europe to Oceania, there have been mermaid sightings (even as recently as 2009 and 2012): elusive, half human, half aquatic beings that live in oceans, rivers, ponds and waterfalls. What mermaids look like and whether they are cruel or kind differs from culture to culture, yet the myth prevails.

For instance, in Zimbabwe, the white-skinned, black-haired Mondao are to be feared, as without the proper offering, they are likely to drag you underwater and possibly eat you. Yet on the Korean island of Geomun-do, a guardian mermaid, Sinjike, guards the islands from harsh storms. Or what about La Pincoya, a helpful mermaid that dances on the shore of Chiloe off the coast of Chile? This happy water spirit sails the sea at night with her brother and sister in a ghost ship, picking up drowned sailors who they restore to life.

This beautiful and informative guide to the world’s varied mermaid myths is lovely to look at but also full of surprising information – such as the fact that in 2009, several witnesses at a small seaside town in Israel reported watching a mermaid doing tricks in the bay. Clear maps help to express the global phenomenon and give insight into world cultures as well as myths.

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