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The Monkey Connoisseurs (1837) by Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps
The Monkey Connoisseurs (1837) by Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps

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Zoomorphism, from the Greek ζωον (zōon), meaning animal, and μορφη (morphē), meaning shape or form. It is defined as:

  1. The representation of gods as animals or the attributing of animal characteristics to gods.
  2. The use of animal figures in art and design or of animal symbols in literature.
  3. The viewing of human behavior in terms of the behavior of animals.



Common misconceptions

Zoomorphism is often mistaken for anthropomorphism, or the act of attributing human qualities to non-human things, while in fact, zoomorphism can often be better described as "the act of attributing animal qualities to non inanimate things".

In literature


One of the key motifs which Lautréamont employs is zoomorphism. In Les Chants de Maldoror (1869), the protagonist and other human characters are often seen metamorphosing into, or taking on the characteristics of animals in a literal or behavioral sense. Thus the narrator substitutes various body parts with animals: his own phallus is substituted by a snake and from his neck grows a large "mushroom with umbelliferous stalks." See description of narrator in Les Chants de Maldoror

HP Lovecraft

A motif that predominates H. P. Lovecraft's fiction is zoomorphism. A strong example of this motif can be found in the short story "The Festival" (1925), in which Lovecraft's protagonist describes the Byakhee, a fictional race: "there flopped rhythmically a horde of hybrid winged things ... not altogether crows, nor moles, nor buzzards, nor ants, nor decomposed human beings but a combination of these things that I can not and must not fully recall...".

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Zoomorphism" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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