World Turtle

    Character » World Turtle appears in 22 issues.

    A mytheme of a giant turtle (or tortoise) supporting or containing the world.

    Short summary describing this character.

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    North America

    The Lenape myth of the "Great Turtle" was first recorded between 1678 and 1680 by Jasper Danckaerts. The myth is shared by other Northeastern Woodlands tribes, notably the Iroquois.


    In Chinese mythology the creator goddess Nüwa cut the legs off the giant sea turtle Ao and used them to prop up the sky after Gong Gong damaged the Buzhou Mountain that had previously supported the heavens.


    Hindu mythology has various account of World Tortoises, besides a World Serpent (Shesha), Kurmaraja and world-elephants.

    The most widespread name given to the tortoise is Kurma or Kurmaraja. The Shatapatha Brahmana identifies the earth as its lower shell, the atmosphere as its body and the vault of heaven as its upper shell.

    The concept of World-Tortoise and World-Elephant was conflated in popular or rhetorical references to Hindu mythology. The combination of tortoise and elephant is present in John Locke's 1690 tract An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, which references an "Indian who said the world was on an elephant which was on a tortoise ". It is repeated in Bertrand Russell's 1927 Why I Am Not A Christian in the reference to "the Hindu's view, that the world rested upon an elephant and the elephant rested upon a tortoise". A whimsical allusion to such a supposed "tortoise-and-elephant" version of the myth appears in Wilfrid Sellars' 1956 Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind, "authoritative nonverbal episodes... would constitute the tortoise on which stands the elephant on which rests the edifice of empirical knowledge."


    Once the queen of a great kingdom in the Fable Homelands. When the king discovered that she was being unfaithful, he punished her by turning her into a turtle. He transformed her soul into a teacup of delicate ceramic, which she had to carry on her back. The cup contained her entire homeland, an archipelago of "surging seas and sun-dappled islands", and all of its people. If she let the teacup fall or break, her people and her homeland would be destroyed, and her soul would be lost to her forever. Her horrible trial would end when she found a heroine of low station willing to trade places with her. The heroine would then become the new queen, and the turtle a new peasant. Once, the turtle passed through the woods where a young Rose Red, now without her sister, lived, but the turtle understood quickly that Rose Red, sad and depressed, was not the one she was looking for. The turtle once crossed paths with Bigby Wolf, and was the one who told him about the Lady of the Lake and her powers to assign fates.


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