What is a Kraken? And why is it Steampunk?
The Kraken, a legendary sea monster, has its origins in the Norse sagas.
The Vikings - those kings of the seas whose seafaring secrets we have yet to uncover - first encountered this giant octopus, living in the depths of the sea. Sometimes the monster was coming up to engulf ships in its gigantic tentacles.
The Kraken and Jules Vernes
A few centuries later, Captain Nemo will fight against the giant squid's descendants at the helm of his Nautilus. Jules Verne's novel, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, is a reference for the Steampunk movement. The octopus associated with the submarine has a sufficiently unusual look to find its place in the heart of Steampunk fans.
By chance or coincidence, at the end of the novel, Captain Nemo lands his two prisoners in the Norwegian Lofoten Islands in the seas where the Kraken was first seen. The Nautilus dives one last time, never to be seen again. Has it lost a final battle against a giant octopus? On the cover of the first edition of Jules Verne's book, they are there, lurking at the bottom of the ocean but clearly visible, confirming their primordial role in this adventure novel.
The octopus: a "Steampunk" look
As far as its physique is concerned, the octopus' head has everything to please the Steampunk movement. It looks like it has put on an aviator's helmet and a pair of goggles over it. We can also imagine its head as a diving suit and its tentacles as feeding arms. The fluid undulations of its multiple arms evoke an Indian god hypnotizing the seafarers with its thousands of suction cups, similar to tiny gears that turn in all directions.
Then there is its way of moving. Contrary to its name of cephalopod, the octopus does not walk on the head. But its way of propelling itself by ejecting water through its siphon is spectacular. The octopus, this large and sluggish thing, becomes in an instant the fastest animal among its marine invertebrate congeners. It is perhaps also this schizophrenic dual personality that makes it so endearing.
The animal fascinates, whether called Kraken, octopus, squid, or cephalopod. Artists like to be inspired by it, and the steampunk movement has appropriated it to play with its image and symbol. In jewelry, rings or bracelets, in logos for tee-shirts, in clocks, or on the clapper of a pocket watch, its tentacles lend themselves to all kinds of fantasies.
Think about it the next time you put on your goggles to go diving!
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