The unicorn is a mythical creature that figured in works of art and myths in Mesopotamia, China and India centuries before Christ. Greco-Roman art and literature abound with descriptions of the white, horse-like beast with a single horn growing from its forehead. This horn is spiral shaped and ends in a sharp point.
The unicorn is a shy yet fierce and powerful animal. In Christian art it commonly symbolizes chastity and virginity. The unicorn could only be tamed by a virgin; it laid its head in her lap and thus was overcome. However, in heraldry, for example on escutcheons, the unicorn signifies a fighting spirit and valour.
Medicinal powers were ascribed to various parts of its body. In the absence of actual unicorns, the horns and tusks of other animals, such as narwhals, had to pass for these mythical parts.