Dragons

Dragons have been a part of mythology and legend for thousands of years. Almost every country in the world has some sort of dragon story. Stories of dragons have been handed down for generations in many civilisations. No doubt many of these stories have been exaggerated through the years.

The dragon is a mythical creature typically depicted as a large and powerful serpent or other reptile with magical or spiritual qualities.

Dragons are said to have been able to live almost anywhere, depending on the type of dragon mentioned. Their habitats range from the centre of the earth to the middle of the ocean. They could also be found in caves, fire, or anywhere dark and damp.

Dragons appear most in fairy tales and myths. Dragons were generally evil and destructive. In most cases the dragon is the keeper of some treasure - either gold and precious jewels or a maiden in despair. A knight in these stories must come to rescue the girl or to retrieve the riches. To do this he must slay the dragon.

Strangely, the dragons of legend are like real creatures that have lived in the past. They are much like the great reptiles which inhabited the earth long before man appeared on earth.

Myth and history play host to a variety of dragons. Some are huge, angry and have the traditional western feel, while others are much more reptilian and serpentine. Some have one head, some have a hundred. Some, as it's been argued, are not dragons at all. So why do I put them all here? Because there is not a set definition of a ‘dragon', no clear historical similarity. Some stories call dragons serpents, some call serpents dragons, some call dinosaurs dragons and so on.

Some people believe that the dragon may have had a real-life counterpart from which the various legends arose - typically dinosaurs or other archosaurs are mentioned as a possibility - but there is no physical evidence to support this claim, only alleged sightings collected by crypto-zoologists. In a common variation of this hypothesis, giant lizards such as Megalania are substituted for the living dinosaurs. All of these hypotheses are widely considered to be pseudoscience.

Dragons are commonly portrayed as serpentine or reptilian, hatching from eggs and possessing extremely large, typically scaly, bodies; they are sometimes portrayed as having large eyes, a feature that is the origin for the word for dragon in many cultures, and are often (but not always) portrayed with wings and a fiery breath. Some dragons do not have wings at all, but look more like long snakes. Modern depictions of dragons say that they were very large in size, but some early European depictions talk of dragons being only the size of bears, or, in some cases, even smaller, around the size of a butterfly. Another striking illustration of the way dragons are portrayed is their ability to breathe fire but live in the ocean. Dragons represent the joining of the opposing forces of the cosmos.

The Latin word for a dragon, draco (genitive: draconis), actually means snake or serpent, emphasising the European association of dragons with snakes, not lizards or dinosaurs as they are commonly associated with today.

Chinese around the world proudly proclaim themselves ‘Lung Tik Chuna Ren' (Descendents of the Dragon). Dragon occupies a very important position in Chinese mythology. It is referred to as the divine mythical creature that brings with it ultimate abundance, prosperity and good fortune; and symbolises power and excellence, courage, heroism and perseverance, nobility and divinity. It shows up in arts, literature, poetry, architecture, songs, and many aspects of the Chinese conscience. The origin of Chinese dragons is unknown, but certainly pre-dates the written history.

Along with the phoenix, the dragon was a symbol of the Chinese emperors. Dragon costumes manipulated by several people are a common sight at Chinese festivals.

A very popular tourist site in Beijing is the Nine-Dragon Wall in BaiHai Park. At the centre of the wall, there is a giant dragon, flanged by four dragons on each side. In addition to these nine large dragons, the wall is covered from edge to edge with many smaller dragons. In all, there are 635 dragons.

In Vietnam, the dragon (Vietnamese: rang) is the most important and sacred symbol. According to the ancient creation myth of the Kinh people, all Vietnamese people have descended from dragons through Lac Long Quân, who married Âu Co, a fairy. The eldest of their 100 sons founded the first dynasty of Vietnam as Hùng Vuong.

By the time of the early Egyptian period a considerable dragon and serpent worshipping cult had developed. This cult gradually spread to Babylon, India, the Orient, the Pacific Islands, and finally the North American continent. The cult reached its peak during the days of the Roman Empire and disappeared with the advent of Christianity.

The Naga - a minor deity taking the form of a serpent - is common within both the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Technically, the Naga is not a dragon, though it is often taken as such; the term is ambiguous, and refers both to a tribe of people known as ‘Nagas', as well as to elephants and ordinary snakes. Within a mythological context, it refers to a deity assuming the form of a serpent with either one or many heads.

There are many different types of dragons - from cruel and vile to cunning and majestic. Below are described some of the common dragons:

Western dragon

When people hear the term dragon, they usually think of the western dragon. The western dragon is usually a large reptilian beast with bat wings and four legs. Commonly, there are two hind legs and two fore legs, and, while the dragon may walk on all four of them, the dragon can also sit back on the haunches and use its fore legs. Their crocodile-shaped heads usually have horns on them or elaborate ears. They have spikes down their back, and have thick, rudder-tails.

 

Drake

One of the seldom heard of species, drakes are much like western dragons. Unlike them, however, these dragons have no wings, only four legs. They vary from type to type, but they are usually fire-bearing creatures.

Faerie dragon

Faerie dragons are thought to be among the smallest of all dragons. They are also considered to have many bug-like qualities. Many people believe that they are related to butterflies, as they usually have butterfly-shaped wings. Most of the faerie dragons consort with the faeries, and they seldom or never eat meat.

Hydra

It is believed that the hydra's first major appearance was in Greek mythology. When found in history, it is usually a serpentine creature with multiple heads. However, many people now depict the hydra as a sort of western-style dragon with multiple heads and/or tails.

Sea serpent

These creatures live in the waters. They can live in fresh or salt water. They are depicted as long, serpent-snakes usually without limbs but with long, steering tails. Other types include finned as well as serpents with webbed limbs. Some are depicted with wings, but they tend to be useless in the water. Many believe that the Basilosaurus could have been mistaken as a sea serpent.

In medieval symbolism, dragons often symbolised apostasy and treachery, but also anger and envy, and eventually great calamity. Several heads were symbolic of decadence and oppression, and also of heresy. They also served as symbols for independence, leadership and strength. Many dragons also represent wisdom; slaying a dragon not only gave access to its treasure hoard, but meant the hero had bested the most cunning of all creatures.

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Comments 16 comments

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America

This is interesting information. Good Hub! In South America, some scientists are lookiing for what residents say is a flying animal with a 1) western-dragon appearance or 2) a small pterodactyl look, with very acid saliva that burns skin. Have you heard of that? I can't find much information about it.


hassam profile image

hassam 8 years ago from Pakistan Author

Well I never heard of it but heard of one in South east asia which has wings but cannot fly.... for me Dragons had always been one of my most wonderful fanatsies.....I think they are just better of in myths.


Lucky Dog profile image

Lucky Dog 8 years ago

I appreciate the work that you put into this topic! Very informative! Having a soft spot in my heart for mythology and legends, I can honestly say that I learned a few new tidbits form reading your Dragons hub. Thanks again.


hassam profile image

hassam 8 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Lucky for the appreciation


singpec476 profile image

singpec476 8 years ago from Not Too Far Away

Hi Hassam a great hub I think all cultures have dragons and we all have a soft spot for them, maybe oneday someone will find evidence of these beasts, it seems strange that so many have them in mythology and legend for there to be no truth in them at all.


hassam profile image

hassam 8 years ago from Pakistan Author

Yes even I find it a bit strange that there are so many myths and lores related to dragons in almost every cultures .It becomes really hard to believe that they did not existed.


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

I just love dragons.

great hub regards Zsuzsy


Myke C profile image

Myke C 8 years ago

great information! i love dragons too and other legendary beasts and creature. I found a site about mythical and magical creatures on this site... www.mythcreat.wetpaint.com

Check it out.


Tinkmika 7 years ago

Great info guys i never knew there were farie dragons...This information helped me with homework


The Dragon Master profile image

The Dragon Master 6 years ago

But .. did they exist? Do they ..?

Perhaps...

Every culture and every country has a record written in

legend.

Nicely done !!

We have linked to you .. add us in too ...

In Fire & In Flight,

~ The Dragon Master ~

The Dragon Society


carly  6 years ago

what about the size can you talk about that???

and about the diet???


Artisina profile image

Artisina 6 years ago from Sacramento

Great Hub. I love my dragons and love reading what people have discovered about them. Your blessed to be so knowledgeable. Thanks for the info.


D j blade 6 years ago

Just majic an mayhem


ambria 5 years ago

do any of u know dragonolage? i might of spelled it wrong woops.....


blondelyric 5 years ago

Fire breathing dragons and dinosaurs are mentioned in the Bible, of course they are not called by the name of dinosaur because that is a modern term. Read the book of Job, starting at chapter 40, verse 15,located in the front part of the Bible. Chapter 41, sounds like dragon to me. Some people think that God is describing an alligator here. Ummm, I don't know of any alligator that fits this description, and men can capture and wrestle alligators. I believe the Bible is God's word, but even if you don't, it's still an interesting read. If you're interested in dragons & dinosaurs, start with Job, chapter 40.


lucero 5 years ago

love dragonzzzz

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