Dragons are frequent motifs in myths, legends and traditions of many ancient cultures. They were usually depicted as snake-like or reptilian creatures, with elongated bodies covered in scales, large wings and eyes, and belching fire. They represent certain qualities of strength that a person should express, certain temptations or limitations that should be overcome. In Western cultures, the dragon has a generally negative connotation as a terrifying monster and a symbol of evil, while in the East it is a symbol of strength, power and change.The dragon is an underground, water and sky animal. It is closely related to the snake and has similar symbolism. As a combination of a snake and a bird, it represents the connection between heaven and earth. In many traditions, such as Tibetan and Indian, snakes called Nagas represent enlightened beings, great kings of men who have given mankind the total knowledge of the world and the universe.In many myths, legends and fairy tales, we meet a hero fighting a dragon. He must defeat him in order to reach the immense treasure guarded by the dragon – whether it is the golden fleece in the West or the pearl in China. This treasure represents true knowledge, the light of wisdom that illuminates the meaning of life.
Long before Hollywood movies embodied dragons, folklore, illustrations and paintings kept the legend of the flying creatures alive. Chinese cultureChina has the longest continuous tradition of dragon stories, dating back nearly 5,000 years. In ancient paintings from that country, dragons symbolize imperial power and happiness. According to legend, they lived in the water and although they were mostly wingless, they could fly. Most importantly, they brought rain and fertility to the land. In the Chinese Zodiac, it is also the most auspicious sign, and dragon costumes are indispensable in Chinese New Year celebrations. It is believed that other Asian nations, especially Japan and Vietnam, were influenced by the Chinese dragon cult. The dragon as a symbol is deeply embedded and ubiquitous in Chinese tradition and culture, which is why the Chinese are called the descendants of the dragon. It is a symbol of the ruler and represents the ruler’s functions that ensure order and a just social order. It is associated with the terms tao, chi and feng-shui. According to one legend, the Jade Emperor punished four dragons: Long, Yellow, Black and Pearl, by trapping them under four mountains because they drank water from the East Sea and released it to the earth in the form of rain to help people. Not regretting their actions, the dragons continued to help people and turned into the four largest rivers of China. The dragon is also the main actor in Chinese cosmology, where the creator of the cosmos P’ an depicts Ku as a dwarf with two horns or with the head of a dragon and the body of a snake. A dragon with the symbol of yin and yang in its hands is often depicted, which is also called the dragon’s pearl.
However, dragons also appear in all other parts of the world.From Mesopotamia to Ancient Greece. Among the oldest writings about dragons are stories from Mesopotamia about a serpentine deity named Tiamat, who emerged from the sea to return the entire world to primordial chaos. Thanks to the young god Marduk, who killed Tiamat, the cosmos was saved.In the Old Testament, a similar monster is mentioned several times: among other things, Leviathan, a creature that is a mixture of a whale and a snake, but also in other Mediterranean and European traditions. One of the ancient Greek myths, which became perhaps the most represented in the visual arts centuries later, is the myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece. Jason, the hero from the myth of the Argonauts, gathered fifty of the most famous Greek heroes and set off on an adventure by ship, in search of the golden fleece. The golden fleece hung on a tall oak tree, and it was guarded by an ever-vigilant dragon who, seeing the visitors Jason and Medea, hissed so fearfully that the river banks and the great grove echoed. Medea lulled him to sleep with her magic song, and Jason took the fleece and the two returned to the ship. The path leading to the rune is like a life full of trials, twists and turns.Dragon in Slavic mythologySlavic mythology tells about the eternal struggle of the thunderer Perun and the god of nature Veles. At the top of the tree of the world is Perun, in the canopy are bees, pigeons and birds, and in the underground part, among the roots is Veles in the form of a dragon, snake or otter. Veles, as a force of the underworld and darkness, constantly challenges Perun to a duel by stealing his cattle. Perun, as the supreme god, manages to defeat him and drive him underground, but Veles periodically returns renewed, in a new skin like a snake. This struggle is repeated every year and symbolizes the cycle of life, the return of the seasons and the struggle of opposites. Ala in folk beliefsAla (a domesticated Turkish word) is a zoomorphic being, related to the dragon and dragon. In Kosovo, the ala is said to be huge, with a tail that goes down to the ground and a head in the clouds. If a man saw her head, he would move out of fear.She is unusually strong: “Strong as ala!” She is voracious and insatiable: “She eats like a la!” Most of the mischief to people occurs in the first half of summer, when the grain ripens; he leads black and hail clouds, storms and storms, and with them he beats and destroys crops and fruits: “He fights like an ala with a barberry!” She can then be seen in the form of an eagle in front of the clouds and her screeching can be heard. In the villages of Vlasina, they buy other people’s crops and take them to their own region. They are met by dragons (guardians of the crops in their regions), so they fight with them and break the clouds. But they also fight among themselves, with ice grains around the magic wand, and then the hail falls. When there is an eclipse of the sun or the moon, it is believed that they cover them with their wings, begin to bite them and want to devour them. When the sun turns red, then it has been covered with blood from the bite of the ala, and when it shines, then the sun has defeated them. Freckles on the moon are traces of wounds received from ala bites. When the ales manage to eat the Sun, then, according to belief, the end of the world will occur. In order for this not to happen, people shoot guns towards the eclipse, bang on rattles and bells, and women are constantly bawling.