That’s the Gamayun (art courtesy of Victor Vasnetsov). It’s a creature, a bird actually, from Russian folklore. It’s prophetic, symbolizes wisdom and knowledge. Now, for a history major, wisdom and knowledge are goals. As a very interested person of Russian descent, this is a fascinating creature. I have “Gamayun” as my name because wisdom and knowledge are two things I strive for. Being prophetic, well that’s a bonus. – I kid there. I’m not so sure outright prophecy is something I’d like. In any case, I like the name, I like what it symbolizes and I like the artwork.
Of course, I’m not certain as to what role (if any) they play in mythology, I’m guessing not much since I can’t find a lot of mentions of the Gamayun before the 19th Century, and Slavic mythology was pretty well submersed within Orthodoxy centuries earlier. But even folklore is worth learning, and this creature is a fun one. More interesting than a harpy, at least to me. It’s a bird with a woman’s head most usually. Two other folklore bird-women are the Sirin and Alkonost. Both of them are quite interesting as well. I’ll have to do a post on them later, because they’re fascinating as well.∗