This creature, which occupied so prominent a place in ancient Irish mythology, plays a corresponding role in many of the myths of central Asia. The Buryat regarded the hedgehog as the inventor of fire (the porcupine is cast in the same part by the Kikuyu of East Africa); it was the trusted counsellor of mankind which, thanks to it, recovered the Sun and Moon when they were once lost. The hedgehog was also credited with the invention of agriculture. In short it is a culture-hero linked to the period when the wandering Turko-Mongol nomads adopted a sedentary life-style. The rash which the pricking of his spines causes is no doubt the source of his fiery, solar and, hence, civilizing symbolism.
Medieval iconography made hedgehogs symbols of greed and gluttony, no doubt from the habit attributed to them of rolling on fallen figs, grapes and apples and returning, spines laden with fruit, to hide in some hollow tree and amass this wealth and use it to feed their young.