|Posted by A.E Kirk on June 19, 2012 at 9:55 AM|
May Myth of the Month
Dragons have stemmed from all corners of the world. Usually depicted as large lizards with wings in the Western mythology and as large elongated lizards in Asian countries, the dragon has been a common and regularly used mythological creature for hundreds if not thousands of years.
So where do they come from; where did they start? Well Dragons have been used in legendary stories throughout the world. Most commonly in Wales, as the Welsh flag is a red dragon, England, when St George slew a dragon, China, a rather imperial symbol and its part of the Chinese calendar, also Korean, Vietnamese, Indian, Russian, Greek, Persian and the mention has also been dated to the book of Job and Isaiah in the Jewish religion.
Within China, however, symbols of the great lizards have been decpited on Neolithic pottery- so it’s safe to say that the mention of dragons or at least large lizards have been around for thousands of years. At least 5,000, if not more.
Of course when you say the word dragon, you instantly think of Harry Potter, or Lord of the Rings or of recent note, How to Train Your Dragon (brilliant film)- but what inspired the myth?
As of today, the current world has a dragon- or more to the point a very large lizard, thusly named the Komodo Dragon from Indonesia. From the myths of the world, dragons are man-eaters and so is the Komodo Dragon. Although unlike the myth where the dragon can devour any man with the snap of its jaws, it’s true the Komodo Dragon has powerful jaws but it kills its prey via venom, not bacteria as was previously known.
Other animals to help create the myth have been such as Nile crocodiles and also findings of dinosaurs.
Which dragon is which?
Let’s start with the Welsh Red Dragon or Y Ddraig Goch. The dragon, along with the daffodil, is the symbol of Wales. Though the symbolosim of the dragon, it creates a power and a significant pride that you’ll find amongst Welsh people of today.
The earliest known record of the Welsh Dragon is from 829 AD but it is said that King Arthur 5th Century AD was also said to have used the red dragon as part of his battle flag.
The myths of dragons have been apart of Welsh patriotism for centuries and have cropped up even in the famous Mabinogion.
The English Dragon is said to be the defeated dragon by Satin Geroge. The story was written in the 11th century, but it is said that the “event” took place in the Far East during the Crusades.
However during the Tudor times, England from 1400-1600’s, the English used the red dragon as part of the coat of arms, along with the Tudor rose and the English lion.
The Chinese Dragon.
The Dragon is China and indeed other Asian contries such as Korea, Japan and Veitnam, are a central part in thier history, their myths/fables and how parts of their countries were created. The Dragon for China began during the 16th century B.C., placing it as one of the oldest dates that the myht of the dragons’ belong to. It is said that the roar of the dragon is connected to that of thunder.
The Japanese Dragon.
Japan, however, adopted the myth of the dragon from China in 9th century A.D. during the spread of Buddishsm.
The Vietnamese Dragon.
Through folklore and myth, it is believed that the Vietnamese people are descended from a dragon (and a fairy). Representing rain and power, the dragon is an integral part to the Vietnamese history and culture.
The Korean Dragon.
The Korean dragon, while having similarities to the Chinese dragon, is more symbolic in regards to Korean legends and what it portrays. For e.g. the Korea dragon has a longer beard meaningis it wiser and is sometimes depicted carrying an orb, to which they would be creators of life. There is a myth within the Korean culture that a serpant came became a true dragon if it falls from heaven. This myth was actually turned into a film, Dragon Wars. (List is below)
Reign of Fire (2002)
The Neverending Story (1984)
Spirited Away (2001)
Dragon Heart: A New Beginning
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
How To Train Your Dragon (2010)
The Flight of Dragons (1982)
Pete’s Dragon (1977)
The Hobbit (2012)
Dragon Slayer (1981)
Dragon Wars –Korean Myth (2007)