The myth of dragons
Dragons, in there many forms, have existed in myth and legend for many thousands of years. Even today, in this advanced era we live in, dragons make regular cameo appearances in cartoons, comics and even films. Smoking dragons are used as incense burners, dragons in flight hung around our neck or snaking around our finger.
The origin of dragons
Where do dragons originate? Well, it’s certainly true that most myths and legends are based around some semblance of truth, although the link is ordinarily tenuous to say the least. It’s also true that some of the more graphic and unbelievable episodes in our history are steeped in supposition and loaded with exaggeration so it’s more than likely that dragons did exist but not in the form they are now associated. It’s probable that sightings of large lizards led to the birth of the dragon myth. Water dragons and komodo dragons do exist and bear a striking resemblance to ‘traditional’ dragons as well as bearing the same tag.
Whilst the water lizard is very small and often kept as a pet because of it’s friendly nature, the Komodo dragon can grow to lengths of ten foot. It also has a bright yellow tongue that could be mistaken for a lick of flame and a very aggressive nature adding up to a frightening dragon figure. It is quite possible that komodo dragons are the dragons of yesteryear but they weren’t discovered until 1912. The only thing we can say for certain about the origin of dragons is that we will never know for sure.
The form of the dragon
No doubt when you heard the word dragon mentioned, you would have conjured up an image in your mind as to its actual physical appearance. Many different factors will have influenced your mental image. Where you live and possibly the last book you read or film you watched will play a big part.
The western dragon is a particularly crude, evil, bloodthirsty being with four strong legs, a long versatile tail and two large wings. Usually they are believed to breathe fire and eat livestock or humans. There are many tales of brave Christian knights carrying swords and shields and riding horseback (is a horse really likely to run towards a fire breathing, snarling dragon?) rescuing virgin maidens from the mouths of fire breathing dragons in order to prove their faith. The Welsh flag has a red dragon on it, and is still their national emblem.
The eastern dragon looks more like a serpent but still has four strong legs. Traditionally, eastern dragons don’t breathe fire and are unable to fly but this doesn’t make them less of a formidable opponent. There are Japanese dragons with three toes, Korean dragons with four toes and Chinese dragons with five toes.
Whilst the eastern dragon may look dangerous, in China they are usually portrayed as being good creatures that protect the rivers, natural stones and even control the weather.
Other dragons of note include the Hydra that have multiple necks and heads and usually appear with wings breathing fire as well as the sea serpent. Many of you may have heard of the Loch Ness monster in Scotland, one of the most famous legends of all time. Many people still to this day believe in its existence.
The popularity of the dragon
Perhaps dragons exist or perhaps they are purely myth but one thing is for sure, dragons have always been incredibly popular in stories and tales whether they are good animals protecting people or bad beasts used to scare people. This is probably because of how graphic and impressive in appearance they seem. With multiple heads and the ability to fly and breathe fire, it is very likely that stories, myths and legends about the dragon will persist for many more thousands of years to come.