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Post  Admin on 10/27/2008, 2:01 am


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Piasa or Piasa Bird is a legendary creature that was depicted in a mural painted by Native Americans on a cliff above the Mississippi River. The mural was created prior to the arrival of any European explorers in that area. Its location was near present day Alton, Illinois.
In 1673, Father Jacques Marquette discovered the painting on a limestone bluff overlooking the Mississippi River while exploring the area. He recorded the following description of his discovery:

"While Skirting some rocks, which by Their height and length inspired awe, We saw upon one of them two painted monsters which at first made Us afraid, and upon Which the boldest savages dare not Long rest their eyes. They are as large As a calf; they have Horns on their heads Like those of a deer, a horrible look, red eyes, a beard Like a tiger's, a face somewhat like a man's, a body Covered with scales, and so Long A tail that it winds all around the Body, passing above the head and going back between the legs, ending in a Fish's tail. Green, red, and black are the three Colors composing the Picture. Moreover, these 2 monsters are so well painted that we cannot believe that any savage is their author; for good painters in France would find it difficult to reach that place Conveniently to paint them. Here is approximately The shape of these monsters, As we have faithfully Copied It."
The monster depicted in the mural was first referred to as the "Piasa Bird" in an article published in 1836 by John Russell of Bluffdale, Ill. The article was entitled "The Bird That Devours Men". According to the story published by Russell, the creature depicted by the painting was a huge flying monster that lived in the cliffs. Russell claimed that this creature attacked and devoured people in nearby Indian villages. The legend, as related by Russell, claims that a local Indian chief, named Chief Ouatoga, managed to finally slay the monster using a plan that was given to him in a dream from the Great Spirit. The Chief ordered his bravest warriors to hide near the enterance of the Piasa Bird's cave. Outoga then used himself as bait to lure the creature out into the open. As the monster flew down towards the Indian Chief, his warriors slew it with a volley of poisoned arrows. Russell claimed that the mural was painted by the Indians as a commemoration of this heroic event.
Some sources report that this account was likely simply a story created by John Russell. Nevertheless, it is commonly related as the history behind the pictograph.


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