January 01, 2011

Horned frogs in Native lore

In honor of Texan Christian University's victory in the Rose Bowl today, here's some lore about their mascot, the Horned Frog:

Horned lizardHorned lizards (Phrynosoma) are a type of lizards that are a genus of the Phrynosomatidae family of lizards. The horned lizard is popularly called a "horned toad," "horny toad," or "horned frog," but it is neither a toad nor a frog. The popular names come from the lizard's rounded body and blunt snout, which make it resemble a toad or frog.

In culture

Some Native American peoples regarded horned lizards as sacred. The animal is a common motif in the art of many Native Americans in the Southwestern U.S. (namely, Navajo) and in Mexico. In the Clint Eastwood film The Outlaw Josey Wales, the character played by Chief Dan George decides to go to Mexico based on signs given to him by a horned toad.

The horned lizard is the state reptile of both Texas and Wyoming, and the horned frog is the mascot of Texas Christian University (TCU).

The legend of Ol' Rip, a horned toad (allegedly) discovered alive in the cornerstone of a demolished courthouse in Eastland, Texas in 1928, has been well-publicized. A horned toad had been placed there in 1897 as part of a time capsule.

The story of Ol' Rip is thought by some to have inspired the Looney Tunes short One Froggy Evening. Presumably, creator Michael Maltese, being from outside the lizard's range, either took the amphibian nomenclature literally, or just went with it because it made a better story.
What's a Horned FrogIn stories of Native Americans in the Southwest, horned frogs are depicted as ancient, powerful and respected. Archaeologists find horned frogs on petroglyphs, pottery and other crafts painted hundreds of years before Columbus set sail for America. In some parts of Mexico, folklore persists that these creatures which weep tears of blood are sacred.Comment:  For more on Native rock art, see Oprah to Visit Aboriginal Rock Art and Rock Art = 3rd-Grade Doodling?

No comments: