Piercing the Unicorn

Now here’s as elegant a visual metaphor for the loss of virginity as you could want. The unicorn (a symbol of virginity) is resting on the maiden’s lap. The knight has pierced it with his spear (of obvious symbolism, as is the horn of the unicorn). Blood flows from the wound (also of obvious symbolism) as the maiden comforts the dying beast and mourns the loss of her purity. (Image from the British Library blog,  Harley MS 3244.)

 It’s a recurring motif in medieval art: