Bestiary: Decoding animals in Art

Madrid for kids
Lion could symbolise three things.  The lion erasing its tracks with its tail represents theway Jesus concealed his divinity, only revealing himself to his followers.  The lion sleeping with its eyes open represents Jesus, physically dead after crucifiction, but still spiritually alive in his divine nature.  The lion roaring over his dead cubs to bring them to life represents how God woke Jesus after three days in his tomb.

Fox A crafty and deceitful animal that never runs in a straight line.  It was said it would roll in red earth to look like blood and pretend be dead.  When birds came to eat they would be eaten.
Hyena can change sex and eats human corpses.  It represented untrustworthy, two-faced people or humanity, who first orshipped God and then orshipped idols.  It can also signify a greedy and lustful man.

Salmander
is a cold animal.  and can live unharmed in a fire.  Its coldness will extinguish the hottest flames.  If it enters hot water, the water will become cold.  It symbolises protection for righteous people.










Dragon
worst of serpents, it symbolises the Devil.  It's breath shines and strength is in the tail.  It suffocates elephants waiting for them on paths to water, like the devil waiting for people on the way to heaven, to suffocate them with sin.

Peacock
Beauty, power, knowledge and immortality

stag One who will not fight unless provoked; peace and harmony

Dog Courage, vigilance, fidelity and loyalty.  Here wild dogs save King who has been abducted.

Unicorn
Extreme courage; virtue and strength
Bull/Ox
Strength, valour, generosity Cat kept to catch mice and rats and possibly fur.  No religious symbolism




Horse
Readiness for all employments for king and country

Goat
One who wins through politics rather than war


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