There is one being - of the 'supreme' kind - who is not afraid to frolic about on the mighty frame of a Tiger, and this is the eight armed hindu Goddess, Durga; who only happens to be the mother of the universe and the sole cause of creation, preservation, and annihilation - say no more!
The tiger on which the Supreme Being is riding on, (yes, like He-Man), is a display of Durga's unlimited power. And I'm sure you would agree that possessing unmeasurable power would certainly come in handy if you were to mount the unmountable; having the odd spare arm for extra petting could also prove to be beneficial - especially if an arm was to go amiss!
Striking the fine balance between unadulterated natural beauty, and formidable ferociousness, our Panthera tigris is the largest, and arguably the most symbolic of the feline species. So I don't think it comes to any surprise that in the cultures of East Asia, it is this fearsome striped loner who is historically crowned king of the jungle. The fact that it is the tiger depicted as Durga's steed denotes the God-worthy status that we have for this animal.
In Chinese astrology, being born during The Year of the Tiger is certainly something to brag about, (a trait astrological tigers are allegedly inclined to oblige). These people are said to be courageous, adventurous, powerful, alert, terrifying, and are even a symbol of lordliness; they are also noted to be tolerant, reliable, sympathetic, and warmhearted, which does seem somewhat uncharacteristic to the big cat we have got to know so well.
I fear that having embarked on this post I metaphorically have a tiger by the tail, (in an over the top literal sense), as how could I ever do this majestic beast justice? But it is time for me to let go, and pray that I have inflated Shere Kahn's ego enough for him to spare me, so I can write another day.
“Shere Khan does us great honour,” said Father Wolf, but his eyes were very angry. “What does Shere Khan need?”
“My quarry. A man’s cub went this way,” said Shere Khan. “Its parents have run off. Give it to me.”
(Excerpt from Rudyard Kipling's timeless novel: The Jungle Book)
Image © Daniel Mackie
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It seems that wherever man has been, and a cat of some sort, you’ll find tales of people shapeshifting into felines. In fact the only places on earth where it’s safe from the werecat are Australia and Antartica; two continents which don't have a native cat - I hear they have their hands full with werekangeroo’s and werepenguine’s as it is!