Phix; Criosphinxes; Hieracosphinxes; Purushamriga; Naravirala; Manusiha; Thep norasingh; Nora nair
Country of Origin:
Usually found guarding tombs, temples and crossings.
The head of a woman (or a man in Egypt and South and Southeast Asia), the haunches of a lion, and the wings of a bird.
Immense strength, agility and fiendishly difficult riddles.
The Sphinx has long been an emblem of mystery. Both terrifying and benevolent, depending on where you are, the Sphinx has always played the role of “gate keeper” throughout it’s long and well travelled history.
Originating in Egypt where the mighty beast-man would guard temples and tombs, the Egyptian Sphinx was seen as a benevolent, god-like creature. Often carved in the likeness of the Pharaoh they are guarding (as in the case of Pharaoh Khafra on the most famous Sphinx of Giza), it wasn’t until the Sphinx migrated to Ancient Greece that things got ugly!
The most famous story in Greek myth to feature the Sphinx is that of Oedipus. Before unknowingly seducing his Mother, Oedipus was traveling to the Greek city of Thebes when he encountered a terrible looking woman with a lion’s body and eagle’s wings. Eyes smoldering with corruption, the fearsome beast asked Oedipus a riddle. Answer it true and he may continue to Thebes, but answer wrongly and he will join the pile of bones scattered around him.
“Which creature has one voice and yet becomes four-footed, then two-footed, then three-footed?”
Answering correctly, Oedipus carried on to Thebes to get to know his Mum a little better, while the disgruntled Sphinx threw herself off a cliff to be scattered on the rocks!
Bizarrely, the Sphinx’s journey did not end there. Thanks to the world conquering achievements of the great Alexander the Great (he really was great!) and his Hellenistic influences on the lands he conquered, you can still find the Sphinx in much of South and Southeast Asia. From India to Thailand, our enigmatic beastly amalgamation still plays his/her role by guarding temples and tombs to this very day!
As a “creature, spirit and/or monster” from folklore, the Sphinx beats them all! Easily one of the oldest, and certainly the most well travelled, the Sphinx is still casting her watchful gaze throughout the world, ready to ask her riddles and devour anyone who gets it wrong…. Speaking of which, did you answer the Sphinx’s riddle correctly?*
*I’ll give you a clue, look in a mirror and you’ll see the answer staring right back at you.