What Is Karkadann? – The Lord Of The Desert

what is karkadann

Unicorns are known around the world, and they come in many species. We have introduced the Chinese unicorn qilin, which is quite different from the European unicorn. Another peculiar unicorn, karkadann, comes from the Middle East. Wait, what is karkadann?

Karkadann is the Middle Eastern unicorn. As far as I´m aware, karkadann is not well-known in the Western culture. This gives us a good reason to explore this fascinating creature.

Karkadann is said to live in India, Persia (Iran) and North Africa. It is a fierce animal, but it is also a benevolent creature that brings good luck, especially for women.

Let’s explore karkadann’s appearance and special powers. We will also talk about some legends on this intriguing creature.

Build Of A Buffalo, Horn Of A Rhino

The description of karkadann‘s appearance reminds me of the origin of the unicorn myth started by Ctesias, a physician and historian in Ancient Greece.

Like the mythical one-horned wild ass described by Ctesias, karkadann looks like a kind of mixture of a rhino and a large horse. Actually, in Persian and Arabic languages the word kargadan means a rhinoceros. Kargadan also means ´lord of the desert´ in Persian.

Normally, the karkadann has three hooves on its feet; one hoof at the front and two at the back. It has a short tail and it is described to have a build of a buffalo. Karkadann’s ears remind the ears of a donkey.

Horn Of A Rhino To Horn Of A Unicorn

The descriptions of karkadann’s horn have varied. Persian scholar Abu Rayhan Al-Biruni mentioned a short, curved horn on karkadann’s nose. This kind of horn is just like a horn of a rhino.

Later writers made the karkadann’s horn like the horn of the modern unicorn; a long, straight horn on the animal’s forehead. I have also seen illustrations of karkadann portraying it with two horns; a short curved horn on its nose, and a long, straight horn on its forehead.

Karkadann – The Lord Of The Desertwhat is karkadann the middle eastern unicorn

Karkadann is described as a violently strong and aggressive creature.

This uncontrollable animal is even mentioned in the Arabic folktale collection One Thousand and One Nights, in the “Second Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor”. In this tale, Ibn Attuba calls karkadann a ferocious beast that drives all other animals away from its territory.

Karkadann has a loud, haunting call. It carries for several miles across the desert. The horrifying voice of karkadann reminds me of the descriptions of monoceros, the early unicorn myth in Ancient Rome.

What Is Karkadann? – A Loyal Friend Of All Women

While ferocious and violent, karkadann is a symbol of good luck in Middle East. It is often used in lucky charms. Like the Western unicorn, karkadann also has healing powers.

Karkadann’s Amazing Horn

Karkadann’s horn is said to have healing powers similar to those of the Western unicorn’s horn. Karkadann’s horn can purify water.

Karkadann’s horn kills poisonous creatures, such as snakes, spiders and scorpions, in minutes. If someone would be bitten by a poisonous animal, a karkadann’s horn would save them.

Like a unicorn horn, a karkadann’s horn can cure constipation, lameness and epilepsy.

Karkadann – A Loyal Friend Of All Women

Karkadann particularly brings good luck for all women. I mean all women, not just the virgins. This makes the Middle Eastern unicorn different from the Western unicorn myth. The Western unicorn traditionally liked virgins, but the Middle Eastern unicorn likes all women, virgin or not.

Especially women willing to have a baby benefit from the karkadann’s blessings. If a karkadann touches the water with its horn, any females swimming in the water at the same time would become mothers.

Personally, I don’t like the idea at all; I´m swimming in a lake unsuspectingly. All of a sudden, a unicorn pokes its horn in the water. And boom, I’m pregnant. But we must remember the legend of karkadann dates back to as early as 10th or 11th century. I guess getting pregnant was the best thing that could happen to most women back then.

karkadann middle eastern unicornEpic Legends About The Karkadann

The only animal that can kill a karkadann is an elephant. According to a legend, a karkadann stabbed an elephant with its horn and killed the gigantic animal. The karkadann got killed itself too, because the dead elephant collapsed on top of it.

Roc, a massive mythical bird flew down and took the bodies of the elephant and the karkadann. The bird carried the bodies to its nest to feed its chicks.

Only a dove can tame a karkadann. The Middle Eastern unicorn loves a dove’s call. It would wait under a tree for a dove to land on its horn, so that it could enjoy the bird’s song.

Karkadann – A Fierce But Benevolent Creature

So, now we have explored different aspects of the Middle Eastern unicorn, karkadann. While little-known in the Western world, karkadann has been known in Arabic mythology for centuries.

Karkadann lives in India, Persia and North Africa. It is a fierce but benevolent creature. Karkadann is known to be violently strong and aggressive. It keeps all other animals away from its territory.

Karkadann has a build of a buffalo, ears of a donkey and a horn or a rhino. Later writers have changed the description of a karkadann’s horn. Instead of a short and curved horn on the animals nose, like a rhino horn, karkadann’s horn has become a long and straight horn on its forehead. This makes karkadann more unicorn-like.

According to legends, karkadann’s horn has healing powers similar to unicorn horns. Karkadann’s horn is said to protect from poison and it can purify water.

While karkadann is a fierce animal, it is a symbol of good luck in the Middle East. Karkadann brings luck especially to women. The Middle Eastern unicorn likes all women, not just virgins. This makes it different from the Western unicorn tradition.

Any thoughts about karkadann? Were you familiar with karkadann before reading this post, or did you read about it for the first time? Please let us know in the comment section below!



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  1. This is very good and I am happy to learn about the karkadann animal. It really is a very cute animal from what you have explained here and it is ferociously strong. I think those in the middle East and North Africa are very lucky to have the animal brace the area as well. The description fits in like a unicorn but the unicorn is not a fighter. Nice one to give us details on this though. Thanks!

    1. Thanks for your comment, John! Yeah, I think the ferocity of karkadann is what makes it different from the Western unicorn. On the other hand, even karkadann is not always fierce, but it can also bring blessing.

  2. I have never heard of karkadann before but I will surely read more about them having read about it here. Karkadunn: the lord of the dessert really seem like a special specie of the unicorn generally as they are a mixture of fierceness and kindness NAD they also BRI g goodluck, that is really awesome to know of. Their structure also seem very unique and neatly in little ways though. But I guess it is worth the name of being the jungle king. Thanks so much for enlightemening my knowledge more about unicorns

    1. Hi Tracy, thanks for your comment. I’m happy to hear you learned something new here. I had the idea karkadann is not well-known in the Western world, so it’s great to share information on this unicorn species too.

  3. Hello there, thanks for sharing this wonderful post. So far I am beginning to love reading tales about unicorn as I now see them myself as some really wonderful creature. My daughter loves the unicorn story so much as I’m made to read it to her as bed time story every night. From what I have read here about the karkadann, I’m really impressed and I believe she would love to hear about it. Is there a book I can get where its all about unicorn?

    1. Hi Dane, 

      That’s what I’ve been trying to find too; one book with everything about unicorns. 🙂 I have found a couple of candidates for “the essential unicorn book”.

      I have a book called Unicorns – Magical Creatures from Myth and Fiction written by Mia Di Francesco. It’s quite good, it has stories about unicorns around the world and throughout history. Karkadann is also mentioned in this book! It has lots of images and it’s not too long, so it might be great for a child too.

      Another very comprehensive unicorn book is Chris Lavers’s The Natural History of Unicorns. This book has basically all the information about unicorns’ history. But it’s quite heavy reading, probably a bit too long and scientific for a child. 

      There´s also Unicorn secrets: 30 Magical Secrets of Raina the Unicorn written by Madeline Swanson. I have that as an audio book, and it has tons of information on unicorns. This book is guaranteed to be enjoyable for children who love unicorns. This one is probably the most child-friendly out of these three, but I even enjoyed this book, even though I’m a grown-up.

  4. Oh wow I did not know that Qilin is considered as a unicorn and I grew up with it! That is why I love reading your post. I have never heard of a Karkadan before. I feel like the it symbolizes power because of its body. I just love how all the strong creatures succumb to women or always us women friends. Lol I would be scared as well, swimming and got poked and then voila! I am pregnant! Can Karkadan fly? 

    1. Hi, 

      Yeah, qilin is often called the Chinese unicorn, because it is often portrayed with one horn. Of course it’s different from the Western unicorn, but it is considered as a unicorn species.

      Yes, all unicorns seem to love women, that’s awesome! Karkadann can’t fly. They are fast runners though, just like the “classic” unicorn. Karkadanns roam across the deserts where they live.

  5. Honestly I hadn’t heard a whole lot about Karkadann, which makes sense seeing that a lot of the Western world hasn’t heard of it either. Unicorns are all the rage these days in social media especially, so it’s interesting to find some background information on the subject. It’s interesting to see that certain folklore transitions across cultures. The Karkadann certainly is not the picturesque unicorn that we typically imagine, with its violent and aggressive demeanor and haunting, horrifying verbage. I’m glad to hear, though, that the Karkadann is a loyal friend of all women, especially when it comes to the desert. This is great as I would never have known about this without your post, well done!

    1. Hi, 

      It’s awesome to hear you learned about karkadann through this website! It seems to me karkadann is not even mentioned in many unicorn books, only the most comprehensive ones. 

      The Western unicorn also used to be like that, aggressive and with a haunting voice. That was in the early days of the unicorn myth in Ancient Greece ad Rome. Karkadann evolved from this unicorn myth too. 

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I'm a writer, a unicorn lover and a day dreamer. I want to share the magical world of unicorns with you.

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