Dragons in our days

Lizards are also very much like dragons

Dragons are mostly connected to ancient times and pre-historical events. Knights, dinosaurs and vikings is more connected to dragons than cars, cellphones and television. But even if dragons them selves are not among us every day, their ancestors are. There are many animals that remind us about the dragon era, a long time ago.

Birds are similar to dragons in some waysBirds are seen every day, and is not seen that dragon-like. However, they are one of the animals that are as close to a dinosaur as we can come. From that, the step to dragons are not so big. Many dragons had, and have, feathers on their body just like some dinosaurs and just like the birds among us. So every time you see a bird, you might think of it as a small, fluffy relative to dragons.

Lizards are also very much like dragonsLizards is also a small dragon, I mean who haven’t seen one and waited for it to spit fire when their were small? They really look like a small dragon, at least some of them. Dragons are a kind of reptile and is often said to act a bit like a lizard. Look at the Chinese dragon and then at a lizard – the similarities are many.

Snakes - a small, wingless dragon?Snakes – of course I must mention snakes in a post about dragon relatives. It’s impossible to avoid this parable, since the two are very much alike. Many snakes are venomous, just like many of the dragons might have been, until some evolved the fire mechanism. They are also very flexible – the snakes use their flexibility to move and the dragons use ot to fly, hunt and survive. They both have a long tongue with split points and scale, so it’s understandable that some dragons might evolved to snakes. They might started to look for food on the ground and soon the eventual wings disappeared. The legs may have disappeared as soon as they did not need them, since all food was reachable from ground level.

I’m definitely not sure about this, but I like to think of it like this. It takes me a bit closer to the dragons and I can be enchanted just by looking at a bird or if I see a snake. Fantasies are what makes the world interesting – that’s why it’s so important.


Dragons in games

In my last post, I wrote about beautiful jewellery with dragons in them. I continued my search and bumped into the big world of games. Turns out, there is A LOT of dragons in the game world. Most of you probably knew it already, and so did I. But I could never expected it to be so much!

Dungeons and Dragons - the board gameWe all know about the classic Dungeons and Dragons, the board game that came to be a massive hit among so many people around the world. After its launch in 1974, it quickly began to climb up both the top lists and the wish lists. To many, it’s known to be the starting point to the era of our modern board games. It joins people and creates communities, as well as keeps friends together when they don’t meet up very often. It’s been an icon for board games, and it still is.

Next up is the classic card games. Not that the card games itself is connected to dragons, but many uses the motive of the dragon together with cards. It’s not rare to see a card magician, or just a card player, use their special deck with a dragon on the back. The dragon is strongly connected to magic and mystery, and sometimes also the unexplainable. Maybe this is one of the reasons that playing cards so often has a dragon on the back side, to enhance the mystical feeling of the unexplainable events of card games.

Not to forget the classic video games. Here you will find a lot of the dragons connected to games. Many of them are evil and seen as bad. Look at the classic video game World of Warcraft. The dragons in here are a very big and important part of the story, as they change the plot of the game a lot. They are close to the story and in a few places, your task is to slain them. But not only in WoW you find the dragons, also more child-friendly games has its dragons. For example, there is the very friendly dragon in How to Train Your Dragon, the online game based on the movie. Also in the spirit of Pete’s Dragon there is a few games and jigsaw puzzles.

As a way back to the card games and the casino spirit, there is also a lot of dragons in the general casino world. Craps, as I wrote about a bit earlier, has some inspiration from dragons as well. However, I was more thinking of the slots and video slots. It may be more usual for video games or board games to have dragons in them, but slots also got its share. For example, we have the dragon as a bonus symbol in the slot Koi Princess. It’s also asian inspired and infused with dragons, so the trend is strong even here. I found this at a site called freespins365.co.uk, which had a really good review of the Koi Princess slot. You can also see, if you look at the top list in the first link, that there are many casinos around. Many of them has a dragon infused games, but I found Koi Princess to be most interesting.

As you may see, there is a lot of dragons around us. The ones we see may not be the living versions, but at least it warms my heart to see that they are not forgotten. When a dragon is projected as good or helpful, like in Pete’s Dragon or the Koi Princess slot, it suddenly feels even better.


Beautiful jewellery with dragons

I’ve been browsing the web a bit tonight, just to relax a little. I came over some jewellery sites, that I really liked. I especially liked the jewellery with dragons on them, of course. Have you seen all the cool designs from Thomas Sabo? I just love that brand and I have a silverbracelet with a few charms on it. Off course – one of them is a dragon.

Yesterday I found this necklace and fell in love. Isn’t it just georgeous?

Dragonnecklace from Thomas Sabo...

Picture borrowed from www.thomassabo.com

I thought about ordering it but I guess I´ll have to save some money first. I really think it´s a beautiful piece of art. It´s made of sterling silver and has the perfect size for me. It looks similar to the smaller one I keep on my bracelet.

Anyhow, I found more stunning pieces. Look at this babies:

Dragon earrings

Picture borrowed from www.babysnake.se

I just loved the name at the store: Babysnake 🙂 Cool and cute at the same time and they had so many cool jewelries.

This earrings were made of sterling silver as well. I like oxidized silver, I think it gives the jewelry character. If it´s to shiny it´s to cute for my taste. And you don´t have to polish them as often when they are oxidized 😀 You could get a matching pendant as well.

It would be fun to sit down with a goldsmith and design my very own dragon.  Imagine an earring where the dragons tail winds among your ear and ends up in some kind of ear cuff. Or perhaps a flame from the dragons mouth. Combined with a tail hanging down from the ear. Can you imagine? Or am I lost in my thoughts again? 🙂

There are so many beautiful dragon designs out there. I just can’t get enough och this mystic creatures. So dark and powerful. My friends laugh at me and call me obsessed.. well, I like being obsessed. What makes your heart beat a bit extra?

 

 


Dragons as a symbol

Dragons have, as you might have seen by your self, become a symbol and a token. It’s wide spread among the world as a symbol of hope, power and magic. All around, you see dragons as lamps, tattoos, patterns at mugs – basically everywhere. It’s become a thing to have dragons everywhere.

Much may be because it’s strongly related to the Asian culture, with bright colours and long, beautiful patterns. It’s not a surprise that dragons are so popular, since it’s filled with magic and mystic. As said, now you can see dragons basically everywhere. Not because of hallucination, though. Dragons are displayed in many different forms and shapes, in many contexts and it’s mostly in a good way. More often than not, the dragons are added to give the context more power and a more magic touch to it.

Take for example playing cards, for Baccarat, Black Jack and poker. It’s often you see a really cool deck of cards with dragons on them, perhaps in an advanced pattern. Or if you’ve ever played the game with dices called Craps (which you can read more about here), you’ve probably seen there is lots of details with dragons in some places. Probably, it’s to give it more magic and mystic to it, but also to remind of the Asian culture with dice, cards and dominos where you might sometimes relate this to. Either way, dragons in the world of gambling and playing is very popular.


The dragon statue in Klagenfurt

There is a huge amount of dragon statues around the world. Today I would like to tell you about the fierce statue in Klagenfurt, Austria. In the 1330´s they found a large skull that they believed descended from a dragon. The skull was displayed at the town hall and many years later an artist used it as a modell to create such a “natural” image of a dragon as possible. It was an attempt to depict a creature they seriously thought  once existed. The result? A really cool statue. But not very realistic, huh?

The inspiration to the shape of the dragon named, among others, from another mysterious creature, “the Lindworm”. Have you heard of it? It should be asigned to an own post, but the Lindworm is more of a snake. A really huge one! It looks like a dragon but has no wings…

Anyway, the statue was completed in 1593. 39 years later they added a statue of Hercules with a swinging stick, aiming to kill the dragon. I didn’t´t managed to find out why they chose to do that so many years late tho. The creation is very cool where it stands in the middle of the square and I bet that it is a hot subject for photoshoots among tourists. I would love to go there myself one day to get to se this statue irl. Meanwhile, I have to settle with the webcam on their website for tourists 🙂

Funny fact years later it turned out that the scull actually belonged to woolly rhinoceros. To be honest, I have never heard about such a creature before so this gave me yet another animal to explore closer. One that actually has exists.

Can you imagine what amazing creatures who has walked around this earth long before us? In fact, I am sure that there are still many creatures left for us to explore. Species that we had not have time, or come to, discover yet.

For an example, what do you think is hidden in the deepest, darkest water. Far out of nowhere? A horrifying, but yet tantalizing, thought…

Have you seen a really cool dragon statue? Tell me about it, I just can´t get enough of them. Can you imagine how cool it would be to travel around the world just to see every single statue ever been made? Awesome!



The false facts about the Chinese dragon

Chinese dragon on festival

Most people have probably seen images and reconstructions of the Chinese dragon. Big, long, looks a little bit like a lizard, has no or very small wings and flies. Well, there is only one little flaw in that description, according to some of the books on the topic.

The Chinese dragon is probably one of the more famous ones and they are seen in many different contexts. Of course, there is the celebration of the Chinese new year where the dragon is in parades and at festivals. There is Mushu in Disney’s movie Mulan, and many other examples. But in some stories and context, the Chinese dragon flies. Even though is has really small wings, or sometimes no wings at all, it flies in movies, pictures and games like slots and video games. (More about slots and games is found here.)

Dragons may be mythological beings, but it doesn’t mean they are magical. They still apply to the laws of physics. This meaning, they cannot fly unless they have the wings for it. Obviously, the bumble bee disputes this, but the dragons are not really like a bumble bee. They need to have wings big enough to fly, if they are to fly.

So far, we know the Chinese dragon can’t fly, since it has wings way too small, if any wings at all. But the idea of it flying must come from somewhere, right?

Well, since the Chinese dragon is one of the more lissom ones, very flexible and also very strong, it can move very quickly. It can sometimes almost look like it’s flying when it quickly moves in the mountains, in the forest and wherever it is. With it being able to climb mountains very easily, it’s easy to understand that it might look like it’s flying.

So in conclusion, the Chinese dragon can not fly. It has very small, or no wings. However, it is very lithe and flexible, so it may look like it’s flying when it moves. Therefor it might have gotten the reputation that is now widely spread. Even a mythological being like the Chinese dragon must follow the laws of physics.


Dragons in different times

As I have written before – dragons have been around in many different cultures since a long time ago. Somehow, dragons came to be known all around the world – although in different times and places. How did time change the perspective of them? Are they the same now as they were before, and does that change differ anything from each other if you look at it for two different parts of the world?

In ”The book of imaginary beings”, writer Jorge Luis Borges says that ”We are ignorant of the meaning of the dragon in the same way that we are ignorant of the meaning of the universe, but there is something in the dragon’s image that fits man’s imagination, and this accounts for the dragon’s appearance in different places and periods”. I found this quote really interesting, and decided to try to dig into the subject a little deeper.

In a way, I find this to be really true. Each time and place seem to have their kind of dragons, that somehow reflects the time being. No matter if it´s Daenerys Targaryens fire breathing beasts in “Game of thrones” or the green friendly guy in “Pete’s dragon” – the dragons continue to show up in movies and books in different shapes and sizes. The more you look for dragons in culture history, the more you’ll find – often in places where you don’t expect to. You can even find them in 19th century posters promoting sobriety, in the shape of the “wine dragon”. For the most part, dragons have been assigned to be evil creatures. from Tolkien’s Smaug to the dragon with the golden skin in the story about the Greek hero Jason. All evil, most of them slain. Through the centuries, lots of dragon lifes has been claimed.

I wrote in the last post about that one common idea of how the idea of dragons came up was that people found dinosaur skeletons and created an image based on that. That might have been the case – but what made people from different parts of the world relate those findings to dragons? One theory is that dragons, in most cases, carry the resemblance of the three biggest predator threats – snakes, felines and birds of prey. That could be one explanation to why dragons popped up in different parts of the world during different time periods – all people simply had the inherited fear of the same things, which they combined to get something as terrifying as dragons.

Eastern dragons are mostly portrayed as fortune bringing creatures, in opposite to their relatives in the west. But according to some people – it doesn’t have to depend on cultural differences, but the difference in historic time. The Chinese culture, which is the oldest one, would have had more time to domesticate their dragons than the younger civilizations in the west would have. It’s an interesting thought, and to me it really does make sense. Dragons does seem to have gotten a lot more good-natured in the west lately. If you compare the dragons that are portrayed today with the ones from medieval times, they do seem a lot nicer today for the most part. During the medieval time, dragons were often used as a tool to scare people. Being scared of the same things could really unite people, and that’s what the stories about dragons was used for. Those be-winged beasts were also used as a symbol for power, evil, or simply the unknown. Dragons were used as a marker on maps to mark dangerous or un-explored areas – hence the expression “Here be dragons”.

So maybe it is time that makes the difference between how dragons are shown in different cultures – and not the cultures itself. An interesting thought, at least in my opinion. We don’t really know how dragons came to be – but maybe they are just a result of the fears all people have in common – although from different places of the world. As we have conquered those fears and grown as society, the perspective we used to have on dragons might have changed. Since those creatures have been around for longer time in China for example – their view on dragons have had more time to change, making their portraits of dragons so much more different than the ones in the west. At least, it could be.

 

petas-dragon

A screenshot from the re-make of “Pete’s dragon” (2016)


Dragons in different mythologies

I’ve been writing about dragons from both the english and the chinese culture now, as well as the dragons seen in movies. Obvioulsy, dragons has been part of the myths and stories in different parts of the world for a long time – and no one really knows where they first come from. They have been part of the Chinese culture for a very long time, but they have been around for quite a while in other parts of the world too – like in europe, where dragons are common in stories and myths as well. But we may never know exactly where the dragons originals came from, or who came up with them first.

One very common idea of how the dragons were “invented” is that somewhere, a long time ago, people came across a dinosaur skeleton. Not knowing that dinosaurs used to walk the earth, I can see why they found it quite frightening. Other people think that the idea for the dragons came up after seeing crocodiles or some other kind of large reptiles. However, it is hard to make out what inspired the dragons, ecpecially since they look different in different kulturs and mythologies. Like I wrote in the post about dragons in chinese culture, the dragons there looked mostly like snakes – long and slim. In European mythology though, most dragons have legs and wings, and doesn’t look that much like snakes.

In Southern Europe, they believed in what is called the “Greek dragon”. In Greece, the first mention of a dragon is from the Iliad – where Agamemnon is said to have a blue dragon motif on his sword belt as well as on his chest plate. But the greek word for dragon can also mean snake, so there is a possibility that it actually were images of stakes that Agamemnon carried. But since this was the first mention of the word “dragon”, the name “Greek dragon” stuck around. In another greek book, called On Animals, there was a type of dragon that inhabited Ethiopia. That dragon hunted elephants, and could grow to a length of 180 feet, or 55 meters. In Eastern Europe though, they believed that dragons had three heads, and usually the heads were believed to grow back if not all three heads are cut off at once.

But there are some things that the Southern and Eastern Europe mythology have in common. The dragons were scaly, and some of them could breathe fire. The dragons were also believed to have magic powers, which came from something called “drakonita”. This was like a small stone, placed in the förehead or inside the head of the dragon. You could pick it out and use its magic, but in that case it would have to be removed while the dragon was alive. The stone has a bit of resemblance to the pearls that can be seen with dragons in the chinese mythology.

So even if the dragons are a bit different in the different cultures, they do have a lot in common. We will probably never know who came up with the idea of dragons first, but it’s internsting to see that people from opposite sides of the world believed in pretty much the same thing. Did the word simply spread by stories, or is there some other reason that the entire world used to believe in dragons? Maybe they actually did exist for a while?

 

 

 


The dragons in England

St.George and the Dragon

Probably have you heard or at least are familiar with the story of St George and the dragon. The story has many versions and sounds like a typical fairytale story. It wouldn’t be a surprise If inspirations from the story of St Georges was taken to the storyline of Disney’s movie “Sleeping beauty”. There are several similarities both with princess, prince, white horse and the main character – the dragon. In Europe during the middle age a dragon was a symbol for the devil. The story about St George and the dragon starts with a dragon terrorizing a small town called Libya. The dragon was said to poison the countryside and bring death to the small town. To satisfy the dragon who lived in a lake nearby, the population of the town decided to do sacrifices. They started with the farm animals such as sheep but soon they ran out of sheep. The only choice left was to sacrifice the children of the village which they did. Soon it was time for the Kings daughter to sacrifices to the dragon but the King wouldn’t let that happen. The time was running out without a sight of a knight but then St. George heard the story. He was willing to give it a try and rode day and night to get there in time. St George made it and was just in time to see when the princess was on her way to the lake. The dragon is said to have been over 50 feet long and have a scale so hard it broke St Georges spear. It was a typical European fire breathing dragon with a green colored skin.

However, since this was story was taking place for so long time ago the story has a lot of different versions. Including divided opinions whether the dragon was living in a cage or in a lake. One more divided opinion is how St. George killed the dragon. One version say the dragon was killed by St George near the cage while another version tells St. George brought it back to the city where it got killed. Different stories but the same ending with the dragon getting killed and the prince rescuing the princess. You might have seen paintings and statues of St George sitting on a white horse while he pierces the dragon with his spear. After St. George killed the dragon he was named as the Saint of England. Why the villain was a dragon is hard to answer but statues and paintings are found from earlier than the 12th century showing a knight on a white horse slaying a dragon.

Another interesting aspect is that in this story of St. George the dragon sees as an evil villain. As mention before the dragon was associated with the devil and Satan during this time. But looking a bit earlier in the history when the first humans boarded England. We find out that England, in the beginning had a flag with a dragon. It was used during battles and as the country’s coat of arms. The interesting in this is when you are looking at the founders of England. It was said the flag and symbol of the founders was a white dragon on a red background. The white dragon is called the English dragon and is still seen as the emblem of Wessex. Compare to the story of St. Georges the white dragon symbol doesn’t have any history before entering English ground. The white dragon was worn by King Alfred the Great while he was defeating the Viking army. It has nether any religious connections but the symbol belongs to Anglo Saxon Jutish origins. There are some stories mentioning two dragons, one white and one red fighting against each other in a den. The two dragons represent the war between England and Wales. The white dragon is said to be English and the red one is representing Wales. In another story the legendary wizard Merlin is mentioned and from reading the story he gets to witness a fight between a red dragon and a white. In the story of Merlin the red dragon defeat the white dragon.

Nowadays you can still see flags with symbols of dragons in England. Especially in areas where Anglo Saxon people live in. Wales still have their red dragon in their flag and it is often used from the government and other public services. Some people want to bring back the white dragon flag since it represents the Englishness better than the St. Georges flag. England is referring to the name “Three lions” nowadays. In the coat of arms there are a lion holding the emblem together with the unicorn of Scotland. There are no sign of any dragon and maybe it will continue to be so or maybe the population get what they want.


Dragons in Chinese culture


Dragons

There are no other continent where you will find as much dragon-related trinkets and decorations as in China. For over 7000 years’ dragons have been a part of the culture and life in China, especially at New Year. You might have seen pictures from the celebrations in China and can recall people dressing out with big, red dragon’s heads and all dancing in the streets. Since the dragons in China is seen more as a snake shaped animal it takes a few people to dress out like a dragon. However, if you would happen to meet a Chinese dragon you don’t have to run. To meet a Chinese dragon is a blessing and the dragon itself stands for good fortune. It’s not like the dragons from Europe or Scandinavia where the dragon symbolizes evil and darkness. No, the Chinese dragon is colorful and even if the body has a shape like a snake it is not creepy at all. It can fly although they don’t really have any wings. The dragon has four short legs and the rumors say it has several elements from different animals. For example, the dragons head have similarities with the head of a camel. The skin of a dragon has similarities to a fish called carp which you can find in both Europe and Asia. On the dragons, upper head, you will see horns and these horns is said to be the same as a giant stag also called deer. Sometimes the eyes of the dragon can seem a bit scary and some say they have the eyes of a demon. But the eyes of a Chinese dragon are also similar and compared to the eyes of a rabbit or hare. The ears can you find right beside the horns and they are the same as a bull. Because of the short legs the dragons neck is like a snake and therefore can wriggle its way through. Often the dragon walks and wriggle at the same time but since the legs are so short there is a possibility the stomach can get injured. To protect the stomach while wriggle its way through the stomach is in the same material as clams. The legs and paws who the dragon use to carry itself with is like a tiger but with claws from an eagle. You can also see the dragon have mane like a horse which starts from the head and goes all the way to the end of the tale. Very Interesting elements from different animals and it is probably the best of all worlds.

If you would ever try to find one of these famous dragons, you should start to look close to water. The dragons are said to be found near the ocean, lakes, rivers and very deep ponds. They enjoy to be in and under the water and it is best to be friends with a Chinese dragon. If you ever would do a Chinese dragon mad you can expect flooding, storms, tsunamis and so on. This is since the dragons are the ruler of the water and therefore have power over the ocean. However, there are four dragon kings who all have each sea to take care about. East China Sea, South China Sea, West Sea also called Indian Ocean and the North Sea are the four seas which all have a ruler in form of a dragon king. For many centuries, the farmers and fishermen who lived nearby the ocean or any large lakes build temples in honor for their dragon king. Whenever it was bad flooding or storms sacrifices were made to the dragon king of the village. But mostly the dragons in China are known as kindhearted and a symbol of power. They may control the sea and the rain but they are good to people since they help driving out evil spirits from people’s house. If you are innocent and helpless they are also known to help a person in need.

In paintings, you may have notice a flaming pearl beside the dragon. According to the legend, the pearl is a key to enter heaven. The pearl possesses all the characterizes a dragon have: spiritual energy, wisdom, power, prosperity and immortality. Often you can witness the Chinese dragon holding this flaming pearl in its claws or close to its head. There are also common with paintings showing two dragons fighting with each other over the flaming pearl. It might seem like all dragons belong to the same race but there are nine different types of dragons in China. Qiulong, also called the horned dragons are the mightiest dragons of all. Yinglong, the winged dragons are the only ones with wings and the oldest dragon of all. Panlong, the coiling dragons which spend most of the time in the lake of the Orient. Huanglong, are known as the yellow dragons but also for their scholarly knowledge and writing. Dilong, are the underground dragons but they are spending their time on the earth controlling the streams and rivers. Fucanglong, these dragons are called the dragons of the hidden treasures. Just as it sounds you will find them underground guarding the buried treasures. Shenlong also known as the spiritual dragon is controlling the wind both also the rain. The celestial dragons, known as Tianlong are the dragons you will find pulling chariots of the gods. Their task is as well to guard the palaces of the gods. Last but not least the dragon kings called Lóng Wáng who can take the shape of a human if they want to. They live in palaces with lifeguards such as shrimp soldiers and crab generals patrolling around. Even if they can take the shape of a human they prefer to be in normal dragon form.