In the south of France, the little town of Beaucarie nestles on the banks of the River Rhone. In the 13th century,in the deep waters of this river, lived the Drac, an immense scaly beast that killed over 3,000 villagers and knights. Although it primarily lurked in the water, this serpentlike dragon had wings.
Early French and Germanic histories tell of the many unsuccessful campaigns to slay the Drac. Ocino, Ragnarold, and Umberto of Guineve all attempted to kill it, but their campaigns failed,and it is supposed that the Drac eventually died of old age.
A legend is told that a young woman was taken by the dragon to care for the beast’s hatchlings. The woman was under a spell that made her forget her mortal life for seven years as she cared for the young dragons. She and all mortals were unable to see the dragon unless the Drac wished. The woman was made to rub a magic cream on the eyes of the hatchlings under the instructions of the dragon, and in the process she accidentally smeared some in her own eye. This action caused her to be gifted with draconic sight, and she was able to see the dragon on her own. The Drac returned the woman to her village after seven years.
The young woman then tried to warn the townspeople of the dragon but no one would believe her story. When the dragon discovered that the woman could see her, she returned with venegance, and ripped out the woman’s dragon-sighted eye so that the woman could no longer detect her presence.
This is the first entry in my European Dragons Sketchbook, which has some nice handmade paper I am getting used to. I also try to draw the dragons as close to the original artwork as I can, while inserting my own style at the same time.
Catalan dragons are serpent-like, and have two legs,rarely four. They sometimes have a pair of wings. Their faces can resemble those of other animals such as lions or cattle.Their breath is poisonous and capable of rotting and burning everything within reach.
The Bakunawa is a dragon in Philippine mythology that is often represented as a gigantic sea serpent. It is believed to be the cause of eclipses because it is so enamored with the shininess of the moon and swallows it. One legend says that there were once seven moons, but the Bakunawa swallowed them. Ancient Filipinos would go out of their homes with pots and pans and crash them together, as well as sing,to make noise in order to scare the Bakunawa into spitting out the moon back into the sky.
The Korean dragon is called the Yong. There are three types: Yong is the most powerful and protects the sky,Yo is hornless and lives in the ocean, while Kyo dwells in the mountains. Korean dragons are in many ways very similar in appearance to dragons of Chinese, Vietnamese and Japanese mythology, although they seem to have developed longer beards.
Naga is the Sanskrit and Pali word for a deity or class of entity or being, taking the form of a very great snake—specifically the king cobra, found in Indian religions, namely Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. A female naga is a nagi or nagini.
Cambodian naga possess numerological symbolism in the number of their heads. Odd-headed naga symbolise the “Energy, Infinity, Timelessness, and Immortality”. This is because, numerologically, all odd numbers come from One (1). Even-headed naga are said to be “Female, representing Physicality, Mortality, Temporality, and the Earth.”
Existing specifically in German mythology, firedrakes usually live in caves and are almost always guarding treasure. They breathe fire,mostly to defend their hoards from treasure-hunters. The dragon that Beowulf defeats toward the end of the epic poem is a firedrake. Also, the infamous Smaug,from J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1937 novel The Hobbit, is one as well. Tolkien confirmed in a letter that Smaug was the last of his kind, the last of the “great fire-drakes of Middle-earth”. Firedrakes are described by Tolkien as being more like giant scaled serpents with wings instead of appearing as dragons do today with more of a defined limbed body. They often grew to immense size.
There are a few differences between Chinese Dragons and Japanese ones. Chinese mythology almost always portrays dragons as benevolent, whereas Japanese legends sometimes feature them as evil monsters similar to European dragons.
Also, in ancient China, the addition of one extra toe or claw to a painting or sculpture of a dragon could be a fatal lapse in judgement. Reason being: a dragon with five toes(or claws) was a symbol of the imperial family. Punishment was dealt on anyone of lower status who dared to decorate his clothing or household with a five-toed dragon. Therefore, dragons with four toes are more common in China, and artwork depicting a five-clawed dragon usually indicates the piece is for imperial use only.
Even though the Japanese dragon was also a symbol of imperial power,the Japan’s artists often portrayed dragons with three toes;a Japanese dragon’s number of toes does not indicate its status.