Mermaid is a legendary aquatic creature with the head and upper body of a female human and the tail of a fish.Mermaids appear in the folklore of many cultures worldwide, including the Near East, Europe, Africa and Asia. The first stories appeared in ancient Assyria, in which the goddess Atargatis transformed herself into a mermaid out of shame for accidentally killing her human lover. Mermaids are sometimes associated with perilous events such as floods, storms, shipwrecks and drownings. In other folk traditions (or sometimes within the same tradition), they can be benevolent or beneficent, bestowing boons or falling in love with humans.

The male equivalent of the mermaid is the merman, also a familiar figure in folklore and heraldry. Although traditions about and sightings of mermen are less common than those of mermaids, they are generally assumed to co-exist with their female counterparts.

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Eastern Europe

Sadko in the Underwater Kingdom by Ilya Repin
Rusalkas are the Slavic counterpart of the Greek sirens and naiads.The nature of rusalkas varies among folk traditions, but according to ethnologist D.K. Zelenin they all share a common element: they are the restless spirits of the unclean dead.They are usually the ghosts of young women who died a violent or untimely death, perhaps by murder or suicide, before their wedding and especially by drowning. Rusalkas are said to inhabit lakes and rivers. They appear as beautiful young women with long pale green hair and pale skin, suggesting a connection with floating weeds and days spent underwater in faint sunlight. They can be seen after dark, dancing together under the moon and calling out to young men by name, luring them to the water and drowning them. The characterization of rusalkas as both desirable and treacherous is prevalent in southern Russia, the Ukraine and Belarus, and was emphasized by 19th-century Russian authors. The best-known of the great Czech nationalist composer Antonín Dvořák's operas is Rusalka.

In Sadko (Russian: Садко), a Russian medieval epic, the title character—an adventurer, merchant and gusli musician from Novgorod—lives for some time in the underwater court of the "Sea Tsar" and marries his daughter before finally returning home. The tale inspired such works as the poem "Sadko"[44] by Alexei Tolstoy (1817–75), the opera Sadko composed by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and the painting by Ilya Repin.

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The word mermaid is a compound of the Old English mere (sea), and maid (a girl or young woman). The equivalent term in Old English was merewif. They are conventionally depicted as beautiful with long flowing hair. As cited above, they are sometimes equated with the sirens of Greek mythology (especially the Odyssey), half-bird femmes fatales whose enchanting voices would lure soon-to-be-shipwrecked sailors to nearby rocks, sandbars or shoals.

Sirenia
Sirenia is an order of fully aquatic, herbivorous mammals that inhabit rivers, estuaries, coastal marine waters, swamps and marine wetlands. Sirenians, including manatees and dugongs, possess major aquatic adaptations: arms used for steering, a paddle used for propulsion, and remnants of hind limbs (legs) in the form of two small bones floating deep in the muscle. They look ponderous and clumsy but are actually fusiform, hydrodynamic and highly muscular, and mariners before the mid-nineteenth century referred to them as mermaids.

China
Mermaids are included in the Shanhaijing (Classic of Mountains and Seas) compilation of Chinese geography and mythology, dating from the 4th century BC. A 15th-century compilation of quotations from Chinese literature tells of a mermaid who "wept tears which became pearls".An early 19th-century book entitled Jottings on the South of China contains two stories about mermaids. In the first, a man captures a mermaid on the shore of Namtao island. She looks human in every respect except that her body is covered with fine hair of many colors. She can't talk, but he takes her home and marries her. After his death, the mermaid returns to the sea where she was found. In the second story, a man sees a woman lying on the beach while his ship was anchored offshore. On closer inspection, her feet and hands appear to be webbed. She is carried to the water, and expresses her gratitude toward the sailors before swimming away.

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Image by D• U• D• A

Hinduism

A mural painting of Suvannamaccha and Hanuman at Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok.
Suvannamaccha (lit. golden mermaid) is a daughter of Ravana that appears in the Cambodian and Thai versions of the Ramayana. She is a mermaid princess who tries to spoil Hanuman's plans to build a bridge to Lanka but falls in love with him instead. She is a popular figure of Thai folklore.

Africa
Mami Water (Lit. "Mother of the Water") are water spirits venerated in west, central and southern Africa, and in the African diaspora in the Caribbean and parts of North and South America. They are usually female, but are sometimes male. They are regarded as diabolical beings, and are often femme fatale, luring men to their deaths. The Persian word "برایم بمان" or "maneli" means "mermaid".[

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