Dragons are mythical creatures that appear in many different cultures and time periods. They have been described as monsters, serpents, reptiles, or beasts, and they are usually thought to have wings and breathe fire. They are also said to have scales and claws, while some also have horns. Almost always they are said to be venomous, and some may have two or more heads. They may also have more than one tail and may have two, four, or more legs. There is something magical about dragons that has captured and filled people’s imaginations for thousands of years ever since we meet them even in stories written in antiquity. However, it’s not perfectly clear when stories of dragons first emerged, but we know that huge, flying serpents were described by the ancient Greeks and Sumerians.
For much of history, dragons were thought of like any other exotic animal: sometimes useful and protective, other times harmful and dangerous. That changed when Christianity spread across the globe, and dragons took on a decidedly sinister hue and came to represent Satan. Still, these fascinating magical creatures have continued to captivate our imagination through folklore, literature, and more recently films, television series, and video games. Here follow 25 Popular Dragons Paramount To Folklore, Art, and Culture that have probably touched you in one form or another.
Feature image: Flickr; TNS Sofres
Even though most dragons are intimidating, furious, and spit fire, Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon is the most harmless and innocent one you could ever meet. You won’t meet many kids who love and become emotionally attached to a dragon, that’s for sure.
In the amazing world of Tolkien, Smaug is a “great” fire drake of the Third Age, considered to be the last “great” dragon to exist in Middle Earth. Drawn to the enormous wealth amassed by the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain during the reign of King Thrór, he laid waste to the neighboring city of Dale and captured the Lonely Mountain, driving the surviving Dwarves into exile. Even though his origin is unknown, some believe he was one of the very few survivors of the War of Wrath.
Kur was an underworld dragon and deity in the mythology of Sumer and lived in the empty space between the primal sea and the earth’s crust. According to Sumerian myths, Kur is often seen as an evil and monstrous dragon for stealing a goddess immediately after the formation of the world, making her his wife against her own will.
Arguably the most famous dragon of all antiquity, the Lernaean Hydra was a serpentine water monster with reptilian traits in Greek mythology and art. According to Hesiod, the Hydra was the offspring of two other famous monsters of antiquity, Typhon and Echidna. It possessed many heads and each time one was lost, it was replaced by two more. It had poisonous breath and blood so virulent that even its scent was deadly, but it found its match in Heracles, who killed her as the second of his Twelve Labors.
The Chinese Dragon
The Chinese dragon is a creature in Chinese mythology that also appears in other Asian cultures. Depicted as a terrifying long snakelike creature with four claws (or five for the imperial dragon), it has long been a potent symbol of auspicious power in Chinese folklore and art.