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    Dragons Across The World

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    Dragons Across The World

    Post  5t4r5cr34m on Sat Oct 06, 2012 12:35 am

    In Western folklore, dragons are usually portrayed as evil, with the exceptions mainly in Welsh folklore and modern fiction. This is in contrast to Asian dragons, who are traditionally depicted as more benevolent creatures. In the modern period, the European dragon is typically depicted as a huge fire-breathing, scaly and horned lizard-like creature, with (leathery, bat-like) wings, with four legs and a long muscular tail. It is sometimes shown with feathered wings, crests, fiery manes, ivory spikes running down its spine and various exotic colorations. Dragon's blood often has magical properties: for example in the opera Siegfried it let Siegfried understand the language of the Forest Bird. The typical dragon protects a cavern or castle filled with gold and treasure and is often associated with a great hero who tries to slay it. Though a winged creature, the dragon is generally to be found in its underground lair, a cave that identifies it as an ancient creature of earth. Possibly, the dragons of European and Mid Eastern mythology stem from the cult of snakes found in religions throughout the world.

    The Latin word draco, as in constellation Draco, comes directly from Greek δράκων, (drákōn, gazer). The word for dragon in Germanic mythology and its descendants is worm (Old English: wyrm, Old High German: wurm, Old Norse: ormr), meaning snake or serpent. In Old English wyrm means "serpent", draca means "dragon". Finnish lohikäärme directly translated means "salmon-snake", but the word lohi- was originally louhi- meaning crags or rocks, a "mountain snake". The word lohi- in lohikäärme is also thought to derive from the ancient Norse word lógi, meaning 'fire', as in Finnish mythology there are also references to "tulikäärme" meaning firesnake, or fireserpent.

    The most famous dragons in Norse and Germanic mythology are:

    Níðhöggr who gnaws at the roots of Yggdrasil, the World tree;
    Jörmungandr, midgårdsormen (Swedish and Danish), Midgardsormen (Norwegian), the giant sea serpent which surrounds Miðgarð, the world of mortal men;
    Fafnir, which had turned into a dragon because of his greed, and was killed by Sigurd;
    Lindworms, monstrous serpents of Germanic myth and lore, often interchangeable with dragons;
    Landvættur, the benevolent dragon whom King Harald's servant met in Vopnafjörður according to Heimskringla, and also depicted on the Icelandic Coat of Arms;
    The dragon encountered by Beowulf.

    Though Somerset has traditionally had a red dragon as an emblem, the red dragon is more commonly associated with Wales, as its national flag features a red dragon (Y Ddraig Goch). This may originate in Arthurian Legend where Myrddin, employed by Gwrtheyrn, had a vision of the red dragon[8] (representing the Britons) and the white dragon (representing the invading Saxons) fighting beneath Dinas Emrys. This particular legend also features in the Mabinogion in the story of Lludd and Llefelys.[9] The legendary house of Pendragon and Celtic Britain in general have become associated with the Welsh dragon standard after the fact.

    Dragons of Slavic mythology hold mixed temperaments towards humans. For example, dragons (дракон, змей, ламя, (х)ала) in Bulgarian mythology are either male or female, each gender having a different view of mankind. The female dragon and male dragon, often seen as sister and brother, represent different forces of agriculture. The female dragon represents harsh weather and is the destroyer of crops, the hater of mankind, and is locked in a never ending battle with her brother. The male dragon protects the humans' crops from destruction and is generally loving to humanity. Fire and water play major roles in Bulgarian dragon lore; the female has water characteristics, whilst the male is usually a fiery creature. In Bulgarian legend, dragons are three headed, winged beings with snake's bodies.

    In Bulgarian, Russian, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Bosnian, Serbian lore, a dragon, or "змей" (Bulgarian: Змей), zmey (Russian: Змей), smok (Belarusian: Цмок), zmiy (Ukrainian: Змій),(Bosnian zmaj),(Serbian: Змај) is generally an evil, four-legged beast with few if any redeeming qualities. Zmeys are intelligent, but not very highly so; they often demand tribute from villages or small towns, in the form of maidens for food, or gold. Their number of heads ranges from one to seven or sometimes even more, with three- and seven-headed dragons being most common. The heads also regrow if cut off, unless the neck is "treated" with fire (similar to the hydra in Greek mythology). Dragon blood is so poisonous that Earth itself will refuse to absorb it. In Bulgarian mythology these dragons are sometimes good, opposing the evil Lamya /ламя/, a beast that shares a likeness with the zmey.


    Duchy of Czersk The most famous Polish dragon (Polish: Smok) is the Wawel Dragon or Smok Wawelski, the Dragon of Wawel Hill. It supposedly terrorized ancient Kraków and lived in caves on the Vistula river bank below the Wawel castle. According to lore based on the Book of Daniel, it was killed by a boy who offered it a sheepskin filled with sulphur and tar. After devouring it, the dragon became so thirsty that it finally exploded after drinking too much water. A metal sculpture of the Wawel Dragon is a well-known tourist sight in Kraków. It is very stylised but, to the amusement of children, noisily breathes fire every few minutes. The Wawel dragon also features on many items of Kraków tourist merchandise. Dragon is the coat of arms of the Polish princes - Piasts of Czersk.[10]

    Other dragon-like creatures in Polish folklore include the basilisk, living in cellars of Warsaw, and the Snake King from folk legends.


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