Winged creatures: from Pazuzu to the Mothman
Winged man, Odilon Redon, Bordeaux, Beaux-Arts MuseumPhoto (C) RMN-Grand Palais / Bulloz Agency
Winged men have been haunting our imaginations and have been illustrating our myths since the dawn of time, including in contemporary urban legends. A visual investigation among the collections circulated by the Agence Photo!
Fifty years ago, the town of Point Pleasant was the scene of strange sightings. The inhabitants of this small town in West Virginia, reported seeing scary creatures, over 2 metres in height, endowed with giant wings and a pair of red hypnotic eyes.
Right in the middle of "Batmania" these hybrid beings soon acquired the nickname Mothman. For several months, from October 1966 to November 1967, other extraordinary events were observed in the sky - unusual lights and unidentified flying objects - like on the ground where strange figures dressed in black displayed bewildering behaviour and language.
In November of the same year, a catastrophe plunged the town in mourning: the collapse of the Silver Bridge which claimed several dozens of victims. For many observers, the creatures and the incident were linked.
John A. Keel, a journalist from New York specialised in paranormal phenomena, went to investigate these events and wrote a testamentary book, The Mothman Prophecies, which inspired a film with the same title, as well as the popular Men in Black.
Myth or moth?
Scientists analysed these testimonies to try and offer a rational explanation for this story: ornithologists argued that the creature described corresponded to various large birds of prey, psychologists were more inclined to viewing it as a chain of collective hallucinations.
As for Keel, he bemoaned the fact that these events were linked to extra-terrestrial phenomena and suggested that the sightings have been part of our dimension since the dawn of time, and which try in certain circumstances to warn humans of imminent danger.
Winged creatures around the world and over time
Wings are above all a symbol of lightness, dematerialisation, freedom - whether of soul or the mind - crossover to the subtle body. In many beliefs, they indicate the knowledgeable faculty, the elevation to a sublime state, the momentum to transcend the human condition.
Belles Lettres publications have chosen images of the Agence Photo to illustrate their latest book "The animal man in visual arts".
By exploring the various representations across continents and eras, this collection of contributions reviews hybridisation, in a convergence of disciplines: archaeology, anthropology, history of art and science. The last chapter studies winged representations from the Antiquity to the Middle Ages, from the Chinese world to the Mediterranean basin. Pazuzu, Garuda, Eos, Harut and Marut, etc.