Thursday, March 13, 2014

Dragons of many colors

Since two full days of Irish stories got snowed out this week (NOOOOOO) I am stranded at home once again, and decided to amuse myself with this little compilation of dragon tales. The goal was to gather as many different kinds of dragons as I could off the top of my head. I have a standing repertoire of dragon tales (I think most storytellers do), so this post is also supposed to freshen up the list. Here we go.

Flower Dragon - A Chinese folktale I really love even though it was almost impossible to track down (and I am not a 100% sure it's a folktale at all). It is about a girl called Pear Blossom that befriends a Golden Dragon that has a thing for flowers, and in exchange the dragon makes her and her mother rich for life.

The Azure Dragon of the East - A Chinese constellation and also a symbol of the East and spring in Chinese cosmology.

Ryujin - The Dragon King of Japanese mythology who lives deep in the ocean in a palace made of coral, and features in many a folktale. He also has two daughters, dragon princesses who apparently have a thing for human men (although they rarely stick with them for long, one of them is credited with being the ancestor of Japanese royalty). Also features in the legend of the Tide Jewels that I included in my collection of folktales with superpowers (link on the left) under Water Control. 

Thora's serpents - Remember the guy from History Channel's Vikings? Here is the story he is based on. But he is not even that important. Look at Thora instead, a girl who apparently raised two dragons that slightly got out of hand when they grew up. Still, how cool is that. Also, sounds vaguely familiar?...

The Dragon Prince and the Stepmother - A Turkish folktale (collected by a Hungarian folklorist) about a girl who tames a dragon (also a take on the Beauty and the Beast story type). In the translation I know it, the dragon is called "the black-eyed prince."

The Red Dragon and the Black Dragon - Turkish folktale from the same book. On top of being a good story, it also includes baby dragons, and we learn that very young baby dragons are blind, just like kittens. You are welcome.

Fafnir - I don't really have to introduce Fafnir. I love the bit though in Legends of the Rhine where he does not keep the Dragon Hoard in a cave; instead he spreads it out on a field and rolls around in the glittering gold. The stories call it the Glittering Heath.

Zahhak - The evil Persian king turned into a three-headed dragon, chained under Mount Damavand (actually a potentially active volcano and the highest peak in Iran). Zahhak, since he used to be human before he was corrupted and defeated, has a bloodline in later Persian legends. This line includes Rudaba, the "original" Rapunzel, and the heroine of one of my favorite tales ever. Talk about "blood of the dragon."

Yamata-no-Orochi - The eight-headed dragon of Japanese mythology who apparently has a thing for eating virgins and drinking sake.

Hungarian dragons - Hungarian dragons are often depicted as human, but that does not stop them from having multiple heads. In fact, the number of heads is very important in the grand scheme of things. Seven-headed is your standard folktale dragon (hétfejű sárkány), while the more bothersome ones can grow in number of heads exponentially to nine, twelve, twenty-four or twenty-seven. There is also a popular children's story about a dragon called Süsü who is bullied by other dragons because he only has one head.

Storm serpents - The other kind of dragon in Hungarian folklore. Flying snake that can be many different colors. Serves as a mount for a type of weather wizard called garabonciás, and usually associated with storm clouds, whirlwinds, hail, and lighting. (Stories about these are also included in my book).

El Amarú - The dragon of Peruvian myth, a serpent of all the shimmering colors of the rainbow on its piscine scales, that sleeps under a lake until it is awakened to bring rain and end an epic drought.

Piasa - A supposedly Native American dragon-creature depicted in a rock painting along the Mississippi river. There are many speculations about what it is, and why the painting was created. It is a winged and scaled creature depicted in red, green and black.

Okay kids, that's enough dragons for today.

1 comment:

  1. How about the five toed royal Dragons? They're cute.

    Lovely Dragon post and some I'd never heard of.