The Brave Little Tailor and the Unicorn

The Brave Little Tailor & The Unicorn Illstration

This old illustration is one of those that has been collated to produce Taschen’s new book The Fairy Tales of the Brother’s Grimm.

The little tailor demanded of the King the promised reward; the King, however, repented of his promise, and again bethought himself how he could get rid of the hero. “Before thou receivest my daughter, and the half of my kingdom,” said he to him, “thou must perform one more heroic deed. In the forest roams a unicorn which does great harm, and thou must catch it first.”

“I fear one unicorn still less than two giants. Seven at one blow, is my kind of affair.” He took a rope and an axe with him, went forth into the forest, and again bade those who were sent with him to wait outside. He had to seek long. The unicorn soon came towards him, and rushed directly on the tailor, as if it would spit him on his horn without more ceremony.

“Softly, softly; it can’t be done as quickly as that,” said he, and stood still and waited until the animal was quite close, and then sprang nimbly behind the tree. The unicorn ran against the tree with all its strength, and struck its horn so fast in the trunk that it had not strength enough to draw it out again, and thus it was caught.

“Now, I have got the bird,” said the tailor, and came out from behind the tree and put the rope round its neck, and then with his axe he hewed the horn out of the tree, and when all was ready he led the beast away and took it to the King.

The Unicorn in the Grimm’s tale about The Brave Little Tailor is much more akin to original records of the unicorn recorded by Ctesias (c.500BC) than the magical new age creature that is often presented to us today. Ctesias wrote that the unicorn is ‘the most fell and furious beast of all’.

In keeping with this old description the illustrator has depicted the unicorn as a horse like creature. However he has given the beast equine hooves rather than the elephant feet which Ctesias described in his ancient manuscript.

You can read ‘The Brave (Valiant) Little Tailorin full here.