World Mythology Series: An Illustrated Bibliography
Why choose this series?
It’s a bold claim to call your series the ‘World Mythology” series, but these lovely volumes do their best to live up to the name. Some of the biggest attractions of these large mythology volumes are the abundant full colour paintings that appear throughout the text – typically featured on double page spreads – as well as the even more abundant line drawings that ensure almost every page is illustrated. Different illustrators for each volume are mostly chosen from the geographic region from which the myths are drawn, which ensures authentic designs and symbolism that reflect the local folklore.
The tales included are retold with integrity and readability by experts in each field, but most of the stories will be fairly well-known if you are familiar with the area’s folklore. Most of the books include a guide to the symbolism that applies to the mythologies, along with name pronunciation guides and a helpful index.
How many books in the series?
There are 13 volumes, which cover mythology from most regions around the world (excluding, oddly, Pacific and Oceania folklore): including stories from the the Jewish People; Indian myths & legends; Chinese mythology; Celtic mythology; Arab myths & legends; Viking mythology; Egyptian mythology; Greek myths; Roman mythology; Russian mythology; African mythology; North American Indian mythology; and Central & South American mythology.
Which ones are the best?
Particular standouts for me include the Russian, Viking, Chinese and Celtic collections, for their gorgeous, lush illustrations, and the volume on Central and South American myths for its breadth of coverage of a diverse region. But I think you would be pleased to have any volume on your shelves, even if only for the illustrations.
Where to find them?
Unfortunately this series is out of print, but it will make for a fun second-hand hunt – you should be able to find the majority of the volumes for a reasonable price. The books were first published in the late 1970s, and re-released in the 1990s. They were published in English by Peter Bedrick Books / Eurobook and Carson Dellosa Publishing. They were also made available in other languages including Spanish.
Angels, Prophets, Rabbis & Kings from the Stories of the Jewish People – José Patterson
1991 / 9780872269125. Illustrated by Claire Busche with 16 full color paintings, and with an additional 25 line drawings by Bushe and Edward Ripley.
Includes stories from many periods of Jewish history, including legends about biblical characters and events, tales of folk heroes from the time of the Roman occupation of Israel; and from the Middle Ages, when stories were told of the rich variety of figures who defended Jewish life and of the evil viziers, giants and demons who symbolised their enemies.
Table of contents: The Jewish heritage; The Creation; The Great Flood; The Patriarchs; Moses, the Great Leader; Heroes and heroines; The Kings; The Prophets; Tales from the Talmud; Legends from the Middle Ages; Rabbis and Miracles; Tales of the Festivals; Tales of Longing; A Portion in Paradise.
Demons, Gods & Holy Men from Indian Myths & Legends – Shahrukh Husain
1995 / 9780856540509 (LB). 1987 / 9780856540509. Illustrated with 18 colour paintings by Durga Prasad Das, an Indian artist living in Orissa.
Includes stories taken from Pakistan and Bangladesh as well as from India itself, including stories about the huge and complex family of Hindu gods and goddesses, tales from the magnificent Indian epics, and accounts of the miracles and marvellous deeds of saints and holy men including the Buddha, Guru Nanak of the Sikhs and the Sufi saints of Islam.
Contents: The world of the ancient Indians; The old gods; The great goddesses; Holy men of India; Shiv, god of destruction; The many forms of Vishnu; The adventures of Ram; The life of Krishna; Stories from the Mahabharat; Legends of romance and adventure; Stories of wit and trickery; Tales of kings and princes.
Dragons, Gods & Spirits from Chinese Mythology – Tao Tao Liu Sanders
1994 / 9780872269224. 1980 / 9780856540394. Illustrated with 18 full colour paintings and 34 line drawings by Johnny Pau, a Chinese illustrator brought up in Borneo.
Includes stories about the gods, heroes, dragons and spirits of the Chinese world.
Contents: The Chinese world; Gods from the dawn of time; The early heroes; When gods and men mingled; The Chinese dragons; Buddhist tales; Taoist tales of magic and fantasy; Spirits and demons; The Monkey spirit; Tales of faith and loyalty; Gods and superstitions.
Druids, Gods & Heroes from Celtic Mythology – Anne Ross
1994 / 9780872269194. 1986 / 9780856540493. Illustrated in colour by British fantasy artist Roger Garland, with additional line drawings by John Sibbick.
Includes myths, legends and stories of the Celts from the most ancient Irish tales to the saga of King Arthur.
Contents include: The ancient Celtic world; The arrival of the gods; The second battle of Moytura; The sorrows of storytelling’ The story of Ca Chulainn; The story of Fionn; The four branches of the Mabinogion; The legend of King Arthur; The gods of the pagan Celts; Magic birds and enchanted animals; The giants of Moryah; Gods of the landscape; The wonderful head.
Fabled Cities, Princes & Jinn from Arab Myths and Legends – Khairat Al-Saleh
1985 / 9780856540479. Illustrated by Iraqui artist Rashad N. Salim with 18 full colour paintings, and 38 additional line drawings by Peter Dennis.
Includes legends and stories of Arabia, from ancient myths of pre-Islamic times, to folktales from the Golden Age of the Arab Muslim world.
Contents: The Arabs and their world; Gods of the ancient Arabs; Myths and legends of the extinct Arabs; Myths and legends of the North and South; Priests, soothsayers and wise men; Tales of generosity, honour and loyalty; Celestial and terrestrial worlds; Angels and jinn; The Arabian Nights; The City of Brass; Journeys to the world of the supernatural.
Gods and Heroes from Viking Mythology – Brian Branston
1978 / 9780856540295. 1994 / 9780872269064; 9780872269057 (LB). Illustrated by Italian artist Giovanni Caselli with 24 colour paintings and 54 line drawings.
Includes stories of the old gods and heroes the Vikings worshipped before the coming of Christianity: one-eyed Odin and Thor, the thunder god, Tyr, Frey and Freya, Loki the mischief maker and many others.
Contents: The tricking of King Gylfi; The world of ice and fire; The creation of the world; Night and day; The first humans; Yggdrasill, the World Ash; The Golden Age in Asgard; Heimdall in Midgard; The Norns; Loki and his evil children; War in heaven; The walls of Asgard; The apples of eternal life; Odin prepares for the Ragnarok; Sigurd the dragon-slayer; The story of Trembling Hood; Fenrir the wolf is bound; How Thor got his hammer; Thor fights the giant Krungnir; Thor goes fishing; Thor in the giants’ stronghold; Thor’s holiday; The stealing of Thor’s hammer; The death of Balder; The gods’ revenge; The Ragnarok, doom of the gods; The gods return; King Gylfi is tricked again.
Gods & Pharaohs from Egyptian Mythology – Geraldine Harris
1982 / 9780856540431. 1992 / 9780872269071. 1993 / 9780872269088. Illustrated by David O’Connor with 18 full colour paintings and an additional 43 line drawings by John Sibbick.
Includes stories of the gods and pharaohs of Egyptian mythology.
Contents: Red land, black land; The waters of chaos; The nine gods; The secret name of Ra; The Eye of the Sun; The anger of Ra; The murder of Osiris; The conflict of Horus and Seth; The journey of the soul; The seven-year famine; King Khufu and the magicians; The eloquent peasant; The shipwrecked sailor; The prince and the sphinx; The capture of Joppa; The doomed prince; The two brothers; The blinding of Truth; The Sun Pharaoh; The Princess of Bakhtan; The Book of Thoth; The young magician; The sealed letter; The clever thief; The voyage of Wenamon; Egypt in decline.
Gods, Men & Monsters from the Greek Myths – Michael Gibson
1979 / 9780856540271. Illustrated by Giovanni Caselli with 23 colour illustrations and 50 line drawings.
Includes stories about the many Greek gods and goddesses; tales of heroes and monsters like Jason and the golden fleece, Midas, the golden king, Theseus and the Minotaur, and the labors of Hercules; along with the ten-year Trojan war and the wanderings of Odysseus.
Contents: The world of the gods; The new gods Zeus and Hera; Hades, Lord of the Underworld; Persephone among the dead; Poseidon’s Ocean Kingdom; Prometheus and Pandora; Aphrodite, goddess of love; Ares, god of war; Artemis and Apollo; The chariot of the sun; Athene, goddess of wisdom; Hermes, the messenger of the gods; Pan and Dionysus, the wild gods; The labours of Hercules; The adventures of Perseus; The rival twins; Jason and the golden fleece; The house of Thebes; Theseus, king of Athens; Orpheus and Eurydice; Eros and Psyche; Pygmalion’s statue; Echo and Narcissus; Midas, the golden king; The death of the Chimaera; The fall of Troy; The wanderings of Odysseus.
Heroes, Gods & Emperors from Roman Mythology – Kerry Usher
1992 / 9780872269095. 1983 / 9780856540462. Illustrated by John Sibbick with 18 full colour paintings and 46 line drawings.
Includes stories of the Gods worshipped by the Romans, the heroes and warriors they claimed as their ancestors, and of the spirits they believed played an active role in daily life, as well as stories from Virgil’s Aeneid.
Contents: The city that conquered the world; Gods of the countryside; Gods of the family; Gods of city and state; Spirits of the Underworld; Gods from the East; The story of Aeneas; Dido and Aeneas; Adventures in Sicily; The golden bough; War in Italy; The site of Rome; The siege; The great battle; The end of the war; Romulus and Remus; The Sabine women; Numa, the wise King; The house of Tarquin; Tarquin the Proud; The early Republic; The rise of Rome; Heroes and Emperors; Heroes who saved Rome.
Heroes, Monsters and Other Worlds from Russian Mythology – Elizabeth Warner
1996 / 9780872269255. 1985 / 9780856540486. Illustrated with eighteen large colour paintings prepared by Alexander Koshkin, a Russian artist living in Moscow, along with over 40 black line drawings and full colour map.
Includes the old stories and legends of the Russian people and its varied country itself: the lands of the north and Siberia, with their vast expanses of impenetrable forest, wild rivers and lakes and bitter winters; the heavily wooded central areas where demons lurked in treacherous swamps; and the softer steppe lands of the south, covered in summer.
Contents: The land of old Russia; The old gods; Smiths and ploughmen; Spirits of forest, stream and home; Man and the elements; Worlds above and worlds below; Serpents, dragons and monsters; Witches and wizards; Koshchei the deathless; Shape-changing; Wondrous animals; Giants and midgets.
Kings, Gods & Spirits from African Mythology – Jan Knappert
1986 / 9780856540516. Illustrated by Francesca Pelizzoli with 12 colour paintings and numerous line drawings.
Includes tales of gods, spirits and ghosts; sagas about famous heroes, warriors and royal leaders; and fables about the animals which play such an important part in the everyday life of the countryside.
Contents: Africa and its people; In the beginning; Kings and kingdoms; The world of the spirits; Magic animals; Monsters and prodigies; Tales of the heroes; Fables from Africa; The saints of Islam.
Spirits, Heroes & Hunters from North American Indian Mythology – Marion Wood
1992 / 9780872269033. 1981 / 9780856540400. Illustrated with 18 full colour paintings by John Sibbick and 42 line drawings by Sibbick and Bill Donohoe.
Includes stories ranging from the creation myths of the Inuit and explanations of natural events and traditional morality from the Iroquois, to the famous trickster tales of the Cherokee and Dakota tribes.
Contents: The first Americans; The coming of Raven; Sedna, the witch under the sea; The origin of the winds; The woman and the giant; Hare and Otter; The seven sisters; Gluscap, Lord of the North; The girl who married a bear; Raven and the beavers; Only One, the great shaman; The strong man; The Big Turtle; The wampum bird; Why the opossum’s tail is bare; The Morning Star; Scar Face and the sun dance; Behind the waterfall; The search for the buffalo; The adventures of Iktomi; Hasjelti’s dance; The Corn Maidens; Rabbit shoots the sun; The theft of fire; The Hummingbird brothers; The woman and the butterflies.
Warriors, Gods & Spirits from Central & South American Mythology – Douglas Gifford
1983 / 9780856540448. 1993 / 9780872269156. Illustrated by John Sibbick.
Includes stories about the Aztec Gods, Mayan and Incan myths, and tales of spirits of the Amazon, mountains and rivers.
Contents: Myths of the New World; Gods of the Aztecs; The Mayas and their myths; The Incas, children of the Sun; Myths of the high Andes; Mysteries of the valleys; Spirits of the forest; Tales from the Amazon; Tales of mischief and magic; People of the great rivers; The far south; Tales of the southern plains.