When we consider Zelda, we consider Zelda, Link, swords, bows and arrows, bombs and Ganondorf. This is what is at the forefront of almost all Zelda games, and is what keeps the passion of Zelda alive, the continuity. However, there are many other areas in which we must delve a lot deeper in before we can uncover any form of truth or speculation. In this event, we must use our common knowledge, as many canon sources as possible and a level of experience that only comes with debating and playing Zelda.
In this case, I’m going to be discussing the Phoenix in Zelda, well, what I believe represents a phoenix, and it always occurs near the Triforce. It is much like the symbol of the Triforce. There has been much fanon surrounding the Phoenix, and it has been believed that the Phoenix is protecting the Triforce. However, as I stated, this is simply fanon and it is something that really needs to be ignored. After all, there’s also a fourth Triforce piece there as well, does that mean that there is a fourth Triforce piece. Of course not. Too many powerful sources have made influential statements against this.
In regards to the Phoenix, the first time that anything in regards to the Phoenix that comes to life is very early on in the series. It starts in A Link to the Past, and that is simply by the shield design. If we look at the image (inset left) we can see that there is a clear, something, underneath the Triforce on the shield design. This could be interpreted as a number of things. It could be read into as little as it’s merely a shield design and is nothing to take into serious consideration.
This is usually the stance that I would take on this; it is simply, and purely, decoration. However, if it were purely decoration, it would not then occur again, and again throughout the Zelda series. We can see that this is a symbol that is clearly meant to be in direct comparison to Zelda as it occurs again, however, not as far into the future as say Ocarina of Time, but within the same game. The Japanese Player’s Guide for A Link to the Past has a level of artwork that is not often seen within the Western counterpart. Within the Japanese Player’s Guide, there are certain pictures of Princess Zelda, in royal regalia.
When looking at the picture (inset right) we can see that the Triforce has a clear mark underneath it. This mark looks like it could be Japanese writing; it also looks like something rising up from far below. This furthers my belief that it could be the Phoenix.
The next game, historically speaking, that has any real references to the Phoenix is Ocarina of Time, as Link’s Awakening has the same official art as A Link to the Past in the most part. Ocarina of Time has a fair few references to the Phoenix within the artwork, and as this was the first game where we could see any real detail on the characters themselves. As such the character design had a huge step up, after all, these designs were meant to be there, they are not some random act of any Zelda character designer. The first real reference that we see to a Phoenix is when we see Ganondorf riding through a flame filled area.
However, this does not really mean that there are any real references to a Phoenix there, after all, fire does not equate directly to a Phoenix. Yet, once we move to see the Princess Zelda in Zelda’s Courtyard, we see her dress, and we see her directly for the first time. The imagery we see is a Phoenix (inset left). This creature is in no doubt now. It looks like a bird rising up. In mythology one of the most powerful birds is a Phoenix and it would make sense that the Royal Family and the Triforce would have connections to a Phoenix, as a Phoenix is eternal.
This is not the lone symbol within Ocarina of Time of the Phoenix either. Adult Zelda has the same symbol on her regalia and the Hylian Shield has the same symbol (inset right). This can only be considered further evidence that there is some sort of strong connection with Hyrule and the Royal Family to the Phoenix.
There is now one more image that I’m going to direct our attention too, just to further reiterate the point that the direct reference to the Phoenix is an act of mistake. There are many more references to this character design within The Wind Waker, Four Swords, Four Swords Adventures and The Minish Cap. However, the next image I’m going to direct us too is obvious, it is the only game that we’ve not touched upon yet, which is Twilight Princess. If we consider the fact that Twilight Princess is going to be the most realistic Zelda game that we’ve seen to date, we can safely assume that the creators have poured a lot of time and effort into the game as a whole. If we look at the design on Zelda’s dress (inset left), we can see that there is a clear correlation between that character design and the Ocarina of Time design.
This correlation is clearly not uncommon, after all, we’ve now seen this symbol, if not slightly evolved along the way, appear in at least eight Zelda games, which clearly shows that this is not a random act of odd character design, but it is a symbol that is meant to be within The Legend of Zelda, and there is little that doesn’t hold a deeper meaning to something else. Although, if we are to believe that the character design is a strong direction of what the Zelda mythology is, then we can clearly see that the fourth piece of the Triforce has fallen out of favour with the character design, and as such, we can believe that this is Nintendo’s way of destroying that belief.
This is unquestionable evidence to lead us to the conclusive proof that there is a definite trend with the Phoenix within The Legend of Zelda. However, why have I decided that it is the Phoenix, and why is it known as the Phoenix throughout a large part of the Zelda Community.
Well, I’ve been in the community for many years now, which makes me feel very old, however, in my time, I’ve not come across an interview that has given the Phoenix a definitive name, or even if it is truly the Phoenix. The grounding behind my belief is not simply because it makes sense, but it looks like an interpretation of classic Phoenix design. If we look at the Phoenix from the Aberdeen Bestiary (see below)
we can see that the design looks similar to the main design of the Phoenix within the egg. It has the classic open winged pose, and it is looking up towards, in this case the Sun, in the case of Zelda, usually the Triforce. There are many other Phoenix designs throughout history that are similar in stance and style, which is why I believe that it is a safe assumption to guess that the Phoenix in Zelda is actually a Phoenix.
Yet, how can we really call it a Phoenix, when there is really very little relevance of the Phoenix within The Legend of Zelda. Well, the Phoenix has incredible power, according to the Harry Potter world; it can lift heavy loads and can heal someone with their tears. In most mythological senses, the Phoenix is a powerful symbol of immortality and rebirth. Which again can be linked to The Legend of Zelda, as there are many times when the land of Hyrule has been at near destruction and has been reborn by our Hero saving the land. However, this is not the only representation that the Phoenix has. Throughout recent religious history, the Phoenix has become a strong symbol to Christianity, and in many cases has become a sign of Jesus Christ and his rebirth and immortality.
This would not be the first reference to Christianity within Zelda. The Legend of Zelda’s shield design is a simple cross, which has been linked to Christianity many times before, and been reputed before as well. However, within A Link to the Past, there is Official Art of Link looking up toward a person on a Cross, which can be clearly referred to as Jesus; however, this was more than likely to be a concept created by the artist rather than a piece of canon source evidence that we can clearly use as a link between Zelda and Christianity.
Yet, the link between the Phoenix and Zelda remains strong. The very fact that it is always around the Triforce has led to more than one belief that there is a Phoenix guarding the Triforce; however, if that is the case, one must wonder why there has been little discussion of the Phoenix from Ganondorf within Ocarina of Time when he dived into the Sacred Realm to gain access to the Triforce.
At the very least, we can make the clear correlation between the Phoenix and The Legend of Zelda, and we can also make the assumption that the Phoenix is used, not as a factual piece of evidence to state that there is a Phoenix guarding the Triforce, but to understand it’s use of symbolism. The Phoenix represents rebirth, immortality and purity, which can all be linked to The Legend of Zelda, the very fact that it appears that Link is reborn many times, Ganondorf appears to be immortal and the Triforce much be touched by someone pure otherwise the world falls into disrepute is a simple, and shallow use of symbolism. Yet, this shallowness does prove one thing, that there is obviously something much deeper waiting to be uncovered with the Phoenix within The Legend of Zelda, and that may be released to us in Twilight Princess.
So that’s my monthly article stolen from Harkinian. I hope you all enjoyed some of my thoughts.Follow This Entry | Read Other Posts by Archaic Sage