Dahud-Ahes the Mermaid

30 August 08 | Posted in Arts and Letters

A mermaid is rising in the desert. mermaid_red.jpg

When complete, she will stand 25 feet tall.  Through an entrance at the front of her hips one can access her interior and climb on top of her. Her scales are cut from colorful 55-gallon steel drums. Blue and green lights glow from within.

Designed by Lisa Nigro, Dahud-Ahes the Mermaid is an interactive installation in process. 

A Breton princess, Dahut was the daughter of Gradlon, a king, and the sorceress Malgven. Gradlon built the beautiful city of Ys for his daughter, because Dahut loved the sea. Ys was also known as Ker-Ys in the Breton tongue.

King Gradlon was a christian, his daughter Dahut was a pagan like her mother.  The king’s advisor was a monk, St. Guenole.  He whispered against Dahut, and predicted her way of life would bring the downfall of the city. guenole2.jpg

 Dahut was seduced by a demon or a fairy, who took the form of a beautiful young man. As proof of her love, he asked her to open the seagate at night to let him in. She stole the key while her father slept, opened the gates, and the sea flooded in, drowning most of the people of Ys.

King Gradlon and St. Guenole were among the survivors. The king would have saved his daughter, but Guenole urged him to throw Dahut into the water. Afraid for his life, he did. The water immediately receded, but the entire city was submerged and became part of the Bay of Dourarnenez.  The legend said Dahut did not die, but was transformed into a mermaid. flight-of-king-granlon.bmp

Dahud-Ahes was probably the daughter of 6th c. king of Kernev, or Cornwall, with branches in Wales and Brittany. Dahud was undoubtedly a druidess adhering to the old religion, and a force against St. Gwennole (St. Guenole) who wanted to convert the entire region to Christianity.

There are many Celtic legends about lost cities.  Perhaps they have their inspiration from the tale of Atlantis. Most likely the reworking of the legend of Ys by christian scribes and missionaries was to link it to Sodom and Gomorrah–what disasters can befall a town with a pagan influence and practices.

King Gradlon rode on to the city of Quimper and established it as his new capital.  On the cathedral is a figure of him on his horse, looking back toward the sea at Ys. king-gradlon.jpg

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