Dragons – kings of the skies and the terror of nations
Imagine a creature 25 meters long, that can fly thanks to its wings with a wingspan of 50 meters! In addition, it is an extremely intelligent, cunning, but also a ruthless creature. It is enough to cheat a dragon once for it to inflict a lethal penalty…
On the one hand, to see a noble, beautiful dragon would actually be like a daydream. On the other hand, its existence could end up uninterestingly for greedy people trying to steal the treasures that these creatures guard. Let’s read a bit about animals present in almost all cultures of the world, stimulating the imagination and raising the question: “Or maybe they really existed once?”
The history of dragons
It is not known when dragons first appeared in myths. The earliest records about them date back to around 4000 BC. It was said that they could live anywhere, depending on the type of dragon described. Their habitats were therefore located from the center of the Earth to the depths of the ocean. They also inhabited caves, places associated with fire, and all wet and dark areas.
The dragon character appears in almost every culture, and each culture has its own idea of the dragons. However, where did the idea to create the figure of a large lizard come from? Probably one of the reasons is the found dinosaur remains.
The word “dragon” probably described many bones that could not be attributed to any known animal. Dragons were also associated with enormous size snakes, lizards and other reptiles. One type of dragon, called Wyrm, resembles a serpent with the head of a dragon. Smaller types of dragons (called dragonlets) fought using poison, which they killed their opponents.
Dragons in myths and fairy tales
We hear stories about dragons in every part of the world except Antarctica. While this is a place devoid of indigenous people and therefore attractive to solitary lizards, an overly harsh climate would not be a good place for a fire-loving or water-living creature.
They appear in most fairy tales and myths. In the lion’s share of these stories, the dragon guards some kind of treasure, gold, gems, and even lone queens. In stories of this type, there is also a knight whose task is to kill a dragon and save a beautiful heiress or a great fortune. For example, in the movie Shrek there was a female dragon – it is quite unusual, usually dragons are rather guys 🙂
Dragons had certain characteristics. In ancient Rome, for example, they were considered keepers of the secrets of the world. For the Romans, dragons were a source of knowledge, and warriors used the image of a dragon as a symbol of strength.
Very often, there is a division into two types of dragons: heroic ones, which protect people and objects, and dangerous ones, who wish to destroy people.
What is a dragon?
The most popular image of the European dragon is the one with wings and fire breathing. There are also scales on the body, and sharp claws, some also have horns. Almost all of them may have a deadly poison. Some dragons may have several heads and tails, and the number of limbs varies between 2 and 4, although there may be more. As a rule, however, myths mention four-legged dragons.
Dragons are very intelligent animals in many stories. They live far from people, in secluded, quiet and humid places. In most legends, they are treated as villains who must die at the hands of a knight. Some dragons, however, become guardians of villages or settlements.
Types of dragons
There are as many types of dragons as dragons :), but for ease of use, there are two main types: western and eastern dragons.
People of the East have treated dragons differently for centuries than people of Western culture. Asian dragons are prized for their magical abilities and beauty. They enjoy great respect, while Europeans describe dragons as terrible creatures deserving only to die.
In eastern countries, dragons still take part in many celebrations and parades. They have become a symbol of heroism, not a danger. In Asia, they play the role of guardians rather than killers and thieves. For this reason, they also symbolize beauty and superconscious powers. Their appearance slightly resembles western dragons, but often their eastern counterparts are a cluster of several species of animals.
The most famous eastern dragons are of course the Chinese dragons. In the Middle Kingdom, even the Year of the Dragon appears periodically. The Chinese say that if someone is born this year, he will be healthy, rich and wise, that is, like a real dragon. The Year of the Dragon is said to be very fertile for all Chinese people.
One Eastern legend tells of a poor boy who found a dragon pearl that multiplies everything it touches. When he placed the pearl in the rice bowl for the night, the bowl was full of food the next day.
It would seem, however, that luck left the boy, because a certain robber came for the pearl. The poor man, to protect the pearl from theft, swallowed it. When he did so, he himself turned into a dragon.
The differences between the dragons of the West and the East seem to be considerable. Even habitat types differ: while “European” dragons prefer fire and deserts, Asian dragons like lakes and oceans.
They breathe fire, have evil intentions, and are destined to die at the hands of a fearless knight. These dragons kill people with fire, they can fly thanks to their huge wings, and their feet are equipped with sharp, powerful claws.
The Wawel Dragon – an example of the western dragon
The famous Wawel Dragon lived in Poland (in Europe). He lived in a cave known today as the Dragon’s Den, located on the western slope of Wawel Hill in Kraków.
The oldest version of the legend of the Wawel lizard appeared in the chronicle of master Wincenty Kadłubek, dated at the turn of the 12th and 13th centuries. According to this version, the great monster was referred to as a whole-eater because of its voracity. Every week, the creature had to eat a certain number of cattle. If the inhabitants did not provide the dragon with food in the form of sacrifice from their livestock, the creature demanded an equivalent number of human heads.
King Krak could not bear such a situation in his kingdom, therefore, in secret from the dragon, he called his sons to him. He presented his plan to slay the monster, and the sons agreed to the offer. The plan was simple – the two royal sons had to kill the dragon on their own. However, this has not been done in a traditional way. So they decided to use a trick to do this.
When it was time for the next cattle sacrifice, the sons stuffed the dead animal’s empty skin with ignited sulfur. As the dragon swallowed greedily, it began to choke on the fire that consumed it from within. During this time, the younger son attacked and killed his older brother, with whom he competed for victory over the dragon and taking over the kingdom. After returning to the castle, he lied to his father, claiming that his older son had died by a dragon. Father treated the younger one as a hero and welcomed him warmly. However, the fratricide was revealed – as punishment for his brother’s death, he was banished from the kingdom.
Other divisions of dragons
Dragons can be divided according to their place of origin and the culture in which they were created. There is also a color differentiation. Thus, in legends, one can find:
- Small but intelligent white dragons, fond of arctic cold, although they can also inhabit very high mountains.
- Vile, death-obsessed black dragons in swamps and jungles.
- Greedy, treasure-loving red dragons that live on islands and in the mountains.
- Teenage green dragons who are masters of intrigue and politics. They choose old forests overgrown with huge trees as their home.
- Law-abiding, thoughtful but vain blue dragons, living in dry, hot regions of the world, such as sandy deserts and steppes.
Dragons – interesting facts
- The dragon or sea monster was a real concern of people in the time of Christopher Columbus. It was an age when the world was considered a small land where dragons lurk at its ends. Allegedly, they ate everyone who had the audacity to go far into the ocean. The fear was so great that the places where these dragons lived were marked on the maps.
- According to many legends, dragons ate animals and even people, mainly children.
- Komodo monitor lizards are called Komodo dragons.
- Bruce Lee was born in the Chinese year of the Dragon, therefore min. he was called the little dragon.
- Bruce Lee made the famous movie Enter the Dragon.
- In the movie “Shrek” there is a female Dragon, the wife of Donkey.
- Year of the Dragon (1985) is a famous film by Michael Cimino, based on a screenplay by Oliver Stone and starring Mickey Rourke.
- Smocza Jama – the “house” of the Wawel Dragon in Cracow (Poland) – is 270 meters long, but only 81 meters is open to visitors.
What kind of dragons do you know?
Feel free to post in the comments under the article the famous dragons that are not mentioned in the article. We will check together how many dragons were on Earth :)!
You forgot the feathered serpent of central America, found in many Mesoamerican cultures, it was called Quetzalcoatl by the Aztec, Kukulkan by the Yucatec Maya and Q’uq’umatz and Tohil among the K’iche’ Maya
Thank you for completing the topic!