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Dragons in Mythology and Folklore 1

By Yona Williams    6/11/10

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As you turn the pages of books illustrating various cultural myths and folklore, it is not uncommon to encounter one of the most infamous creatures of the bunch – the dragon. This oftentimes-winged beast is generally depicted as a fire-breathing foe. However, depending on the culture, this is not always so. In this article, you will learn about different dragons that have appeared in various myths and stories from around the world.

The Chinese Dragon

The Chinese dragon plays a significant role in the art and history of China as well as many other Asian cultures. The typical Chinese dragon is lengthy with a snake-like body and four claws. Depending on the folktale associated with the dragon, it could have the fins of a fish or horns of a different creature.

The Indian Dragon

In Hinduism, a dragon appeared in many tales. However, they differed from the Chinese dragon because they often displayed hoods (similar to a cobra). Depending on their rank, they could even have more than one head attached to its body. Often times, the dragon is without arms or legs, and when they do have limbs – it looks much like the Chinese dragon.

Greek Dragons

There is a Greek legend that sees Cadmus fighting the Ismenian dragon, who was responsible for guarding the sacred spring of Ares. The role of dragons in Greece was that they were protectors of significant places or objects. For example, the Golden Fleece was watched over by the Colchian dragon, while the sacred groves of Zeus had the Nemean dragon has its guard. Some of these tales date back even before 560 BC.

Dragons in Indonesia and Malaysia

Often called Naga or Nogo, Hinduism made the Indonesian or Malaysian dragon popular in the Malay Peninsula. This creature is viewed as divine in nature. It is seen as friendly and positive – being connected to sacred mountains, forests, and various parts of the sea.

Gaelic Dragon

There is a Celtic myth that involves Ben Vair, who takes its name from the dragon that once lived in a hollow in the face of the Corrie Lia mountain. It is said that the dragon was fooled into walking along a pontoon bridge with hidden spikes.

Turkish Dragons

The flames that come from Turkish dragons (also known as 'Ejderha or 'Evren') come from the tail and not the nostrils of the creature. In Turkish legends, the dragon did not have wings or legs. The majority of dragons were mostly described as giant snakes.

Dragons in Lithuania

Known as 'Drakonas,' the dragons that appear in Lithuanian myths are more like a hydra with more than one head. Sometimes, it has a single head.

Albanian Dragons

Called 'Dragua,' the dragons in Albanian mythology possess have four legs and two bat wings. In their head, they have a single horn that is surrounded by large ears. Calling the forests their homes, they are invisible unless they wish to be seen. The Albanian dragon can live up to 100 years old. Humans are unable to kills the creatures. Following the Ottoman invasion, the dragons were seen as protectors of the highlanders.

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