The Fish Gods
In some old religions gods had fish like properties. An example is Dagon, a strange looking deity from middle-East mythology. The Hebrew Bible mentions him as the national god of the Philistines with temples at Ashdod and elsewhere in Gaza. Dagon has different appearances. Sometimes he is depicted with a fish tail, and on other occasions carrying a a fish on his shoulders and head like a hood (see left picture). Some believe that the miter of Roman catholic bishops and the pope with its pointed shape and split top was derived from the fish with open mouth on Dagons head.
The Polynesians were also known to worship gods with fishlike appearances. In Fijian mythology, Dakuwaqa was a shark god. Dakuwaga was greatly respected by fishermen, because he protected them from any danger or evil spirits at sea. In Hawaiian mythology there were even several shark gods, of which Kamohoali' was the most famous. It was commonly believed that, when a person died, their family could sacrifice the corpse to become a shark. In Asian countries the whale has been assigned god-like properties: in China for example Yu-kiang, a whale with the hands and feet of a man was said to rule the ocean.
The fish symbol also plays a role in the history of Christianity. Ancient Christians during their persecution by the Roman Empire in the first few centuries after Christ used the fish symbol to mark meeting places and tombs, or to distinguish friends from foes. The fish symbol Ichthys consists of two intersecting arcs, that resemble the profile of a fish. In addition the word ‘fish’, or rather the latin ICHTHUS. was used as a symbol for Christ in the form of an anagram. So ICHTUS spelled as ΙΧΘΥΣ in Greek, stands for Ἰησοῦς Χριστός Θεοῦ Υἱός Σωτήρ" which translates into English as: ‘’Jesus Christ Son of God Saviour’. Finally, when these four Greek letters are superimposed they look like a eightspoked wheel, which became an even more compact way to symbolize a Chistians religous affinity.