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The ancient myths of Tiger’s Eye

The ancient myths of Tiger’s Eye

Tiger Eye MYKU

Photo Ralph Mayhem

In the last seconds of its life, the prey of an attacking tiger is fixated on the dark spots on the back of the cat’s ears. Resembling two, intensely starring eyes, the prey is fixated, almost hypnotized by the intensity of this optical deception. Unable to break itself free from this spell, nature will take its turn.

Tiger Eye  Stone Ege MYKU

Polished Tiger Eye Egg

Holding up a Tiger’s Eye into the sunlight, the intensity of the reflecting golden rays, its luminosity pulls in its viewers with a similar magnitude as its animal eponym. Gleaming like a cat’s eye, the stone came to its name, Tiger’s Eye.

Tiger Eye Semi Precious Stone MYKU

Tiger Eye Specimen

Scientifically, this so-called ‘eye-effect’ is found predominantly in metamorphic rocks including silica crystals, which enable these rocks to reflect light. Often formed in brilliant bands, holding up metamorphic rocks against the sun, these bands seem to move when you look at them, comparable to the way the horizon starts flicker on a hot day in a desert.

Tiger Eye Stone MYKU

Details of Tiger Eye dial

Tiger’s Eye fueled the imagination of mankind since it was first discovered by ancient civilizations. Mysterious, powerful, sumptuous and warming are just some of the values attributed to it throughout time.

shere khan jungle book disney 2016

Photo ©Disney Pictures The Jungle Book 2016

Emphasizing the mythological significance and preciousness of the stone, it has always been attributed to the tiger. Historically, the tiger has been worshipped and respected as a god-like creature, powerful, protecting and, long before Disney changed the picture, as the true king of the jungle.

Tiger Eye Tiger King Chinese Character MYKU

Original photo Keyur Nandaniya

Discovering its role in ancient myths, the tiger plays a central role especially in Chinese culture. The tiger is one of the 12 zodiac animals, fundamental to Chinese astrology. The characteristic markings on the fur of its forehead, forming the Chinese character for king (4 strokes), made the tiger the king in ancient Chinese tales. Along with the dragon, the phoenix and the turtle, the tiger is part of the four Chinese mythical creatures. All four of them have been major motifs across Chinese architecture, art and literature.

Tiger Ancient Amulet

1000 BC Western Zhou Dynasty Ancient China Chinese Tiger Amulet

In Chinese folklore beliefs, the tiger is protecting the good, guarding it from the evil. Being a guardian spirit, Tiger’s Eye has often been carved into amulets and worn to ward off bad spirits, protecting its wearers.  

Tiger Eye Egypt Ra Sun Rays

King Akhenaton Offering to Aton - Egyptian Museum, Cairo. Dynasty XVIII 1370 B.C.

In ancient Egypt, the beautiful bands of gold displayed by the stone were widely believed to be the rays of the powerful sun god, embodied by the tiger.

Tiger’s Eye was regarded as one of the most prized gems of the Nile River Valley. Legend goes that the stone holds the power of midday sun, the hottest time of the day and symbolic of the peak of the life force. Therefore, pharaohs and other high-ranking aristocrats of the Egyptian court wore jewelry made from Tiger’s Eye, believing it will give them vitality and strength. Beyond its strength, the stone represented the concept of the all-powerful eye and was a precious, sacred offering to include in the tombs of the pharaohs to help them navigate the after life.   

Dionysus as a winged deity riding a tiger 2nd Century BC.

Dionysus as a winged deity riding a tiger. Circa 200 BC.

Not only early Chinese and Egyptians believed in the power of the Tiger’s Eye, the stone played a central role in Greek and Roman mythology too.

While the Greeks harnessed the power of Tiger’s Eye in jewelry to strengthen their senses for focus and protection; the Romans wore amulets made from Tiger’s Eye when going into battles. Seen as an embodiment of the tiger’s character traits of bravery, strategic thinking and patience, the Romans wore amulets of Tiger’s Eye to fight off any fear, to protect them and to give enough strength to win any battle.

Tiger Eye Watch MYKU

Tiger Eye 38mm paired with its gold Milanese band

Intrigued by this fascinating stone? Discover MYKU’s collection of unique timepieces featuring Tiger’s Eye here.

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