Bukharan Markhor

Bukharan Markhor

A few years ago, I went to Florence, Italy. Florence is an amazing city, bursting with some of the world’s most famous and masterful art. I spent a day roaming the halls of the Uffizi (one of the oldest art museums in Europe). My eyes were delighted at every turn: Della Francesca, Lippi, Botticelli, Titian, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Caravaggio.

Let’s discuss one Caravaggio piece in particular that I traveled thousands of miles to see with my own two eyeballs: Medusa, the serpent-headed Gorgon from Greek mythology. According to the myths, Medusa was a spectacular beauty. She was so lovely that the god of the sea, Poseidon, dared to have his way with her in Athena’s temple (goddess of wisdom, justice, the arts, math, inspiration, etc.). This made Athena really mad, so she turned Medusa’s hair into serpents and her face into grossness. Her face was so gross that if you looked upon it, you would turn to stone. I’ve always been fascinated with this character and her snakey hair.

The Bukharan Markho is a large species of wild goat that lives in the rocky cliffs of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Kashmir. Male and female of the species have long, corkscrew-like horns spreading toward the sky. In fact, their name derives from mar, the Persian word for snake, and khor, meaning eating. Those horns look like snakes coiling out from their heads much like Medusa, except, unfortunately, when most people see a Bukharan Markho they don’t turn to stone. They usually try to shoot the poor animal, which is why it is endangered.

I’m all for it turning hunters into stone. That would be great because then they could use the petrified hunters to walk around on to get from place to place. Like human steppingstones.