Not unlike how rumours nowadays catch on an build their own realities, similar things have occured throughout history. Though “chinese whispers” still hadn’t reeked the benefits of internet, they had the good fortune of not being hindered by fact checking or the wikipedia foundation.
It was long said, (some sources, such as the swedish periodical “Svenska Familj-Journalen” even published an article on it as late as in 1879, including drawings) that in a land far far away from the hustle and bustle of medieval Europe (well, in Tartary, central Asia) there was a lamb. “A lamb?”, you might think. “What’s so special about a lamb?” “There’s furries everywhere?!” “Why am I reading this nonsense?”
Well. Let me just tell you, that it wasn’t just any lamb. Ney, the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary, or Scythian lamb, if you will, was very special – very magical indeed. In fact it was just as much plant as it was creature. Or, to be more specific, it was a plant, believed to grow sheep as its fruit. Connected to its roots by the umbilical stem it wandered about the surroundings in a tight circle, feeding on whatever was in reach. Until, finally, unavoidably, the land around the plant was looted clear, and the sheep then, sadly, died.
This plantsheep has probably never existed, and it’s a generally accepted fact amongst the cunning researchers in related and relevant fields that the story was inspired by the existance of a rather woolly fern (called Cibotium barometz) in Southeast asia. Though one cannot help but wonder; if this creature never was – what inspired Dr. De la Croix to write the following in his work Connubia Florum, Latino Carmine Demonstrata back in 1791?
“For in his path he sees a monstrous birth
The Borametz* arises from the earth
Upon a stalk is fixed a living brute,
A rooted plant bears quadruped for fruit,
…It is an animal that sleeps by day
And wakes at night, though rooted in the ground,
To feed on grass within its reach around.”
And now, this being May 1, I urge you to think of the lamb, and it’s situation, and compare it to that of us, modern humans.
*Borametz is yet another name for our curly friend.