Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Sometimes feared, sometimes yearned for, mermaids have existed in the minds of men since ancient times. Popular in Greek mythology, these fish-tailed maidens are often confused with sirens (beautiful young women with wings). Both have been rumored to lure sailors into the sea.
(Postcard courtesy of

English artist John William Waterhouse painted this pensive mermaid in 1900.
(Photo courtesy of

Last June, I went to see Mami Wata, a terrific exhibit at the National Museum of African Art in Washington DC. The show featured 500 years of art from Africa, the Caribbean and America that featured water spirits.Above is a painting from the show by Moyo Ogundipe, a Nigerian artist who lives in Denver, Colorado. Below is another by Abdal 22, a Congolese artist. This water creature is also accompanied by a snake and like many depictions of mermaids holds both a comb and mirror.
Shortly after seeing the exhibit, I spent several weeks traveling Italy's Amalfi Coast.
Throughout the area, dolphins, a real sea creature that some have suggested are what sailors actually see when they report sighting mermaids, are popular as a motif in art, architecture and home decor. I photographed the door handle below on the island of Positano.

In Naples, I rode one of the city's three funiculars up to Castel St. Elmo and the Certosa di San Martino. The Certosa (monastery) was built in the 14th century for Carthusian monks but is now a treasure trove of religious and secular objects.
It houses an amazing collection of maritime items, including several royal boats with frolicking mermaids, shells and jumbo starfish.

Isn't she a beauty?

Above and below are water creatures with both wings and leg-like fish tails.

The museum also displayed a stunning gold-embellished Mermaid chair.
The views from the monasteries balconies were equally exquisite.
I also sighted mermaids in Vietri sul Mare, a town famous for its hand-painted ceramics.
Do you have a favorite Mermaid? If so, please share.


Drawn to The Sea said...

Wings to glide thru the air, a tail to glide thru the water... could life get any better?

My favorite mermaid treasure is the photo I took of one (see my blog post 08-02-09).

Lovely warm day,

Cottage Rose said...

Such beautiful Paintings, and the photos are just gorgeous,, lovely views,,, Thank you for sharing then with us... I really enjoyed it....

Have a great week.


Alison Gibbs said...

Great post Barbara.I love the photos of the water creatures with both wings and leg-like fish tails. They are beautiful

Scintilla @ Bell'Avventura said...

If you came to Positano, you will know that the islands at the front are called I Galli and locals know them as Le Sirene or Sirens. They actually look like a mermaid in the water. I wrote about them here:

Queen B. said...


Mermaid Queen said...

Oh yes, I have a thing for mermaids too Barbara! There's something so romantic and mysterious about them. Thanks for the amazing tour. Take care, Martha

Anonymous said...

When my house was very beachy, I had the most beautiful mermaid statue that I picked up at Homegoods for $20. I sold it because that's not my look anymore but she was so beautiful. Hope you are doing well. I haven't been by in quite awhile. I need to catch up.


Jane said...

Mermaids are such popular "beach" items. Seems that they are everywhere this year. I found a wonderful artist in St Augustine who made mermaids from scrapwood, Spanish moss or raffia for the hair, and seashells for the even had bottlecaps. They were quite interesting. I am kicking myself for not purchasing one, the day I saw them...I have not seen them since.
(I forgot to post my water photos this week...oops! I am adding them now.)

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Jane (artfully graced)

NeereAnDear said...

A befitting post ... and on my birthday no less...

Stopping by to thank you for your friendship and support and words of comfort concerning my sisters passing...

I also want to wish you and yours a fabulous and very HAPPY THANKSGIVING


rochambeau said...

Happy Thanksgiving Barbara to you and your family.
Your part mermaid friend,