My interpretation of the Cockatrice. My original text (from when it was intended that the images would be accompanied by a short "bio") is as follows:


The cockatrice has its origins in the late 1100s, based off an encyclopaedia published in approximately 80AD by Pliny the Elder, a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher. The cockatrice and the basilisk were similar creatures with similar capabilities, although the basilisk is said to lack wings and a tail. It was not a large animal – somewhere between six and twelve inches in length – and hatched from an egg laid by a cockerel, incubated by a toad or a snake. The creature varied in how dragon-like it looked – it generally was mostly chicken-like in form, with a dragon’s tail and wings, but occasionally appeared as a wyvern with a cockerel’s head.

The cockatrice is most famous for its killer stare; most myths relate how one glance from "the death-darting eye of Cockatrice" would kill, often additionally turning the person to stone. Some cockatrice were credited with having additional capabilities – they could kill by touch, and by breathing on their prey – small wonder they were so hard to destroy!

The only animals said to be capable of killing the cockatrice were the cockerel, or the weasel. To hear a cockerel crow was instant death to a cockatrice. Some accounts relate how “the stench of the weasel” was said to kill the cockatrice at the same instant the cockatrice’s terrible stare killed the weasel. Others suggest that it is the weasel’s bite which kills, in which case the cockatrice often succeeded in killing the weasel first.

The use of a mirror was another option that could help a person destroy a cockatrice; this worked either by turning its powers of petrification against itself, or convincing it of a rival that it must fight until it died of exhaustion.

The English village of Wherwell was terrorised by a cockatrice, which was ultimately trapped in the dungeons below Wherwell Priory. With the prize of a plot of land as an incentive, men tried to kill the creature; no-one succeeded until a man named Green hit upon the idea of using a mirror. The cockatrice fought its reflection until it was exhausted, at which point Green was able to enter the dungeons and kill it.

Once killed and burned to ashes, the remains of the cockatrice could be used in alchemy, converting base metals into gold. Care had to be exercised in handling, however, as the cockatrice was still lethal even after death.


Hence, the statue in the background is supposed to be a weasel; probably too large in comparison to the monster, but that can't be helped now. In the cockatrice's tail, it's supposed to be a broken mirror. I'm not terribly happy with the eyes - didn't work the way I wanted. Aside from that, I'm fairly satisfied with it (just wish my scanner had co-operated a bit better! >_<).

The writing accompanying the art in the final folio was written by a different author.

Main character: inks and marker on Bristol paper. The rest consists of multiple layers of shaped, cut paper/vellum; I cheated a little with the plants, by using a shaped paper-punch. My scanner made it a little grainier than I wanted.
Drawn for the "Beasts of Yore" portfolio.

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