Wednesday 29 June 2011

gold history

A child finds a shiny rock in a creek, thousands of years ago, and the human race is introduced to gold for the first time.

Gold was first discovered as shining, yellow nuggets. "Gold is where you find it," so the saying goes, and gold was first discovered in its natural state, in streams all over the world. No doubt it was the first metal known to early hominids.

Gold became a part of every human culture. Its brilliance, natural beauty, and luster, and its great malleability and resistance to tarnish made it enjoyable to work and play with.

Because gold is dispersed widely throughout the geologic world, its discovery occurred to many different groups in many different locales. And nearly everyone who found it was impressed with it, and so was the developing culture in which they lived.

Gold was the first metal widely known to our species. When thinking about the historical progress of technology, we consider the development of iron and copper-working as the greatest contributions to our species' economic and cultural progress - but gold came first.

Gold is the easiest of the metals to work. It occurs in a virtually pure and workable state, whereas most other metals tend to be found in ore-bodies that pose some difficulty in smelting. Gold's early uses were no doubtornamental, and its brilliance and permanence (it neither corrodes nor tarnishes) linked it to deities and royalty in early civilizations .

Gold has always been powerful stuff. The earliest history of human interaction with gold is long lost to us, but its association with the gods, with immortality, and with wealth itself are common to many cultures throughout the world.

Early civilizations equated gold with gods and rulers, and gold was sought in their name and dedicated to their glorification. Humans almost intuitively place a high value on gold, equating it with power, beauty, and the cultural elite. And since gold is widely distributed all over the globe, we find this same thinking about gold throughout ancient and modern civilizations everywhere.

Gold, beauty, and power have always gone together. Gold in ancient times was made into shrines and idols ("the Golden Calf"), plates, cups, vases and vessels of all kinds, and of course, jewelry for personal adornment.


The "Gold of Troy" treasure hoard, excavated in Turkey and dating to the era 2450 -2600 B.C., show the range of gold-work from delicate jewelry to a gold gravy boat weighing a full troy pound. This was a time when gold was highly valued, but had not yet become money itself. Rather, it was owned by the powerful and well-connected, or made into objects of worship, or used to decorate sacred locations.

Gold has always had value to humans, even before it was money. This is demonstrated by the extraordinary efforts made to obtain it. Prospecting for gold was a worldwide effort going back thousands of years, even before the first money in the form of gold coins appeared about 700 B.C.

In the quest for gold by the Phoenicians, Egyptians, Indians, Hittites, Chinese, and others, prisoners of war were sent to work the mines, as were slaves and criminals. And this happened during a time when gold had no value as 'money,' but was just considered a desirable commodity in and of itself.

The 'value' of gold was accepted all over the world. Today, as in ancient times, the intrinsic appeal of gold itself has that universal appeal to humans. But how did gold come to be a commodity, a measurable unit of value?
The Incas referred to gold as the
"tears of the Sun."

Homer,in the "Iliad" and "Odyssey," makes mention of gold as the glory of the immortals and a sign of wealth among ordinary humans. In Genesis 2:10-12, we learn of the river Pison out of Eden, and "the land of Havilah, where there is gold: and the gold of that land is good?"

As far back as 3100 B.C., we have evidence of a gold/silver value ratio in the code of Menes, the founder of the first Egyptian dynasty. In this code it is stated that "one part of gold is equal to two and one half parts of silver in value." This is our earliest of a value relationship between gold and silver.

In ancient Egypt, around the time of Seti I (1320 B.C.), we find the creation of the first gold treasure map now known to us. Today, in the Turin Museum is a papyrus and fragments known as the "Carte des mines d'or." It pictures gold mines, miners' quarters, road leading to the mines and gold-bearing mountains, and so on.

Where is that gold mine located? Well, you know how it is with treasure maps - there's always something a little vague about them, to throw you off the trail.

Modern thought is that it portrays the Wadi Fawakhir region in which the El Sid gold mine is located, but the matter is far from settled. Jason and the Argonauts sought the Golden Fleece around 1200 B.C.

That Greek myth makes more sense when you realize that the fleece that it refers to is the sheep's fleece used in the recovery of fine placer gold.

Early miners would use water power to propel gold-bearing sand over the hide of a sheep, which would trap the tiny, but heavy, flakes of gold. When the fleece had absorbed all it could hold, this 'golden fleece' was hung up to dry, and when dry would be beaten gently so that the gold would fall off and be recovered.

This primitive form of hydraulic mining began thousands of years ago, and was still being used by some miners as recently as the California gold rush of 1849.

The first use of gold as money occurred around 700 B.C., when Lydian merchants produced the first coins. These were simply stamped lumps of a 63% gold and 27% silver mixture known as 'electrum.' This standardized unit of value no doubt helped Lydian traders in their wide-ranging successes, for by the time of Croesus of Mermnadae, the last King of Lydia (570 -546 B.C.), Lydia had amassed a huge hoard of gold. Today, we still speak of the ultra-wealthy as being 'rich as Croesus.'
Gold, measured out, became money. Gold's beauty, scarcity, unique density (no other metal outside the platinum group is as heavy), and the ease by which it could be melted, formed, and measured made it a natural trading medium. Gold gave rise to the concept of money itself: portable, private, and permanent. Gold (and silver) in standardized coins came to replace barter arrangements, and made trade in the Classic period much easier.

Gold was money in ancient Greece. The Greeks mined for gold throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East regions by 550 B.C., and both Plato and Aristotle wrote about gold and had theories about its origins. Gold was associated with water (logical, since most of it was found in streams), and it was supposed that gold was a particularly dense combination of water and sunlight.

Their science may have been primitive, but the Greeks learned much about the practicalities of gold mining. By the time of the death of Alexander of Macedon (323 B.C.), the Greeks had mined gold from the Pillars of Hercules (Gibraltar) all the way eastward to Asia Minor and Egypt, and we find traces of their placer mines today. Some of the mines were owned by the state, some were worked privately with a royalty paid to the state. Also, nomads such as the Scythians and Cimmerians worked placer mines all over the region. The surviving Greek gold coinage and Scythian jewelry both show superb artistry.      

The Roman Empire furthered the quest for gold. The Romans mined gold extensively throughout their empire, and advanced the science of gold-mining considerably. They diverted streams of water to mine hydraulically, and built sluices and the first 'long toms.' They mined underground, also, and introduced water-wheels and the 'roasting' of gold-bearing ores to separate the gold from rock. They were able to more efficiently exploit old mine-sites, and of course their chief laborers were prisoners of war, slaves, and convicts.

A monetary standard made the world economy possible. The concept of money, (i.e., gold and silver in standard weight and fineness coins) allowed the World's economies to expand and prosper. During the Classic period of Greek and Roman rule in the western world, gold and silver both flowed to India for spices, and to China for silk. At the height of the Empire (A.D. 98-160), Roman gold and silver coins reigned from Britain to North Africa and Egypt.
Money had been invented. Its name was gold.....

>History of the Dinosaur Collection

The first significant dinosaur fossils added to the museum’s collections were the type specimen of the sauropod Dystrophaeus viaemalae, collected by J. S. Newberry and donated in 1859, and Lower Jurassic dinosaur footprints from the Connecticut Valley, donated in 1861. These fossils were catalogued along with all other vertebrates in the Department of Osteology. It was not until 1887 that the Department of Vertebrate Fossils was established, and given its own catalogue system. The acronym for the “U. S. National Museum” (USNM) became part of our official designation for specimen catalogue numbers, and remains so even though our name has been changed to the National Museum of Natural History.

The honorary head curator of this new department was the famous dinosaur paleontologist O. C. Marsh of Yale University, and he was assisted by Frederic Lucas, who was based in Washington, D.C. Marsh led active field expeditions for both Yale University and the U. S. Geological Survey. During Marsh’s lifetime, these fossils were reposited at Yale, but upon his death in 1899, all the vertebrate fossils he had collected for the government (over 80 tons!) were transferred to the Smithsonian Institution. Marsh’s collections include some of the most important dinosaurs known to science, among them our exhibit specimens of Allosaurus, Stegosaurus, Camptosaurus, Ceratosaurus, Triceratops, and Edmontosaurus. The “Marsh Collection” still constitutes the largest single dinosaur collection at the Smithsonian.

In 1898, J. W. Coleman was hired as the first full-time preparator of vertebrate fossils. He was joined in 1900 by Alban Stewart. They soon left government service and were replaced by Charles W. Gilmore (1903), Norman H. Boss (1904) , and James W. Gidley (1905). In 1908, Gilmore was promoted to Custodian of Fossil Reptiles, and in 1924 he was again promoted to the rank of Curator. While at the Smithsonian, Gilmore became one of the most renowned vertebrate paleontologists of the twentieth century, and with him Norman Boss mounted most of the museum’s famous dinosaur exhibits.

Gilmore led sixteen dinosaur expeditions during his tenure as Curator, mostly to Wyoming and Utah, and the collections he brought back to the Smithsonian Institution included Diplodocus, Camarasaurus, and Brachyceratops. He also studied the Marsh Collection extensively, producing important studies of the dinosaurs Camptosaurus, Allosaurus, Ceratosaurus, Stegosaurus, and Thescelosaurus. The first complete, fully mounted dinosaurs to be exhibited by Gilmore and Boss were Edmontosaurus in 1903, followed by Triceratops in 1905, both in the Arts and Industries Building.

The Establishment of the Smithsonian Institution

In 1846 Congress established the Smithsonian Institution, an organization dedicated to the “...increase and diffusion of knowledge.” At this time Congress transferred the National Cabinet of Curiosities to the nascent institution. Part of the act of Congress that created the Smithsonian also mandated that “...all of objects of natural history, plants, and geological and mineralogical specimens belonging or hereafter to belong to the United States” would become the property of the Smithsonian Institution. This made it a Trust Entity, to act on behalf of the United States as the national treasury for its official objects. The Institution’s first building, commonly known as “The Castle”, was completed in 1855, and housed all Smithsonian operations and collections.

In 1879 the Sundry Civil Act further expanded the role of the Institution so that “...all collections of rocks, minerals, soils, fossils, and objects of natural history, archaeology, and ethnology, made by the Coast and Interior Survey, the Geological Survey, or by any other parties for the government of the United States, when no longer needed for investigations in progress, shall be deposited in the National Museum.” The Arts and Industries building has the special designation as the original United States National Museum. This building opened in 1881 and was the home of the first exhibition of the Section of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Prior to 1870, many of the early vertebrate fossils collected by the Smithsonian and other government agencies were sent to Dr. Joseph Leidy in Philadelphia. Leidy is considered to be the “father” of American vertebrate paleontology for the United States, and described many of the first dinosaur fossils found in the United States. His most famous discovery was that of the hadrosaurid Hadrosaurus, at Haddonfield, New Jersey. As the first dinosaur skeleton found in the U. S., it formed the basis for a full-scale model by sculptor Waterhouse Hawkins. One such model stood in the Smithsonian’s first paleontological exhibit, alongside a model of the ground sloth Megalonyx.

The New United States National Museum

In 1910, the current U. S. National Museum (USNM) opened on the north side of the National Mall. The dinosaur collections were moved across the mall to this new museum, where they have been housed ever since. The mounts of Edmontosaurus and Triceratops were also relocated to become part of the new Hall of Extinct Monsters. There they were joined by new mounts of Ceratosaurus (1910), Camptosaurus (1911), two individuals of Stegosaurus (1913 and 1918), Thescelosaurus (1914), Brachyceratops (1920), and Diplodocus (1931). The Diplodocus skeleton was seventy feet long, and visitors were allowed to walk underneath the skeleton, making it the most popular exhibit for over twenty years.

With Gilmore’s retirement in 1945, the position of Curator of Lower Vertebrates was filled for the first time by a Ph.D. in vertebrate paleontology, Charles Gazin (whose specialty was Cenozoic vertebrates, not dinosaurs). If fact, between 1941 and 2003 the USNM (now the National Museum of Natural History) hired six curators in vertebrate paleontology, none of whom specialized in dinosaurs.
One of these curators, Nicholas Hotton III, undertook the first major renovation of the dinosaur hall in the early 1960s. This hall utilized all the existing mounts and added one more, the specimen of Gorgosaurus (completed in 1960) currently exhibited on the north wall. Although most of the dinosaur skeletons were unchanged, the hall itself was substantially redesigned and reorganized. This hall opened to the public in 1963, and while the visiting public was no longer allowed to walk under the Diplodocus, there was now a sauropod femur that they were allowed to touch.

The hall closed again in 1979 as planning began for a new hall that would highlight the museum’s collections as part of “Fossils: The History of Life”. Again, all of the existing dinosaur mounts were kept, but rearranged to suit the new design of the exhibit. One new mount, Allosaurus, was constructed and integrated into a central exhibit of Late Jurassic dinosaurs. This new hall was opened in December,1981, and remains the centerpiece of the Smithsonian’s paleontology exhibit.

Modern Times at the National Museum of Natural History

Since then, two of our exhibit specimens have been removed for conservation. After nearly a century of exhibition, many of the dinosaur bones had begun to crack due to the vibrations from millions of visitors and the great changes in ambient humidity. Without replacement, the specimens may have undergone a “second extinction.” In 2000, the Triceratops mount was the first to be conserved, and the original bones were repaired and placed in the collections. The mounted skeleton was replaced by plaster casts, now in a more scientifically accurate pose. In 2003 our Stegosaurus was also conserved and replaced with a mount that was designed to be responsive to the Allosaurus directly behind it. In 2004 we begin the same process on our Camptosaurus, which will return to display in 2005.

In addition to exhibit additions and changes, dinosaur research in dinosaur paleontology has undergone a revitalization in the last thirty years. In 1979 the Smithsonian Institution hired Michael K. Brett-Surman as a Collections Specialist, and in 1988 he became the first Smithsonian employee to obtain a Ph.D. in dinosaur paleontology. In 1992 the first of a series of new dinosaur expeditions was begun, to the Big Horn Basin in Wyoming. These new collections include dinosaur footprints (Jurassic), bones (Jurassic and Cretaceous), and eggshells (Jurassic).

In 2003 the Smithsonian Institution hired Dr. Matthew T. Carrano as its first dinosaur specialist since Gilmore’s time, and its first official Curator of Dinosaurs. He recently led expeditions to the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming to collect Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous dinosaurs, as well as to the Cretaceous deposits of Madagascar.

Monday 27 June 2011


History of Mesopotamian Dragons

Let's first look some of the earlier stories about Dragons. The very first "written" stories (that we have uncovered so far) on the creation of the world is from the Sumerian civilization generally in the area we call Mesopotania. This area which later became Persia and then part of various Middle East civilization is generally found between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in what is now Iraq and Iran.
The actual word "dragon" comes from the Greek language much later than this time so any mundane interpretation of creatures by this name before the Greeks must be by descriptions and attributes and not by name. They were generally considered "monsters" even if they had divine attributes.
The very origins and foundations of the entire Mesopotamian culture comes from the stories, culture, and ethics of these Sumerians. The later civilizations of the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, and then Grecians all got much of their philosophy, cosmology, and religion from the earlier stories/ myths of the Sumerians so it behooves us to first look at these early very early stories and pay particular attention to them.

In fact so many of the stories sprout the same type of general story line that we can actually divide them into two categories; Gods versus monsters (dragons) before creation and heros versus monsters after creation. Later versions of the stories often change the names of the parties about but maintain the basic story line. Is it possible that all these stories came from a single source and was later simply adapted, adopted, and some elements changed to suit the civilization telling it? This is a possibility to be considered about these first stories. Many later dragon stories will also be changed in the same manner by different areas or countries but with the same original tale.

The earlier myths often have a god, usually a storm god or a god armed with thunder and lightning bolts, chasing a dragon that has something to do with water. Examples are almost all of the Mesopotamian stories, the Indian god Indra, both Chinese and Japanese myths, the Mayan Rain Gods, the Egyptian sea dragon/serpent Apophis and pursuer Re, and even many early Semitic stories.

From the very start Dragons were seen as guarding treasures, holding back the floods, and dispensing knowledge. They also are battled by gods or heros from the very beginning. In many cases stories from the Sumerians were borrowed and slightly changed by the preceding civilizations. These same stories were very similar in content but with the actual names of the participants changed.
The first written commentary, found on clay tablets, uses the names of Asag, a monster/dragon (sometimes named as Kur) and Ninurta, a god/hero. Later we are introduced to this same god/hero as Marduk by the Babylonians and the dragons name has been changed to Tiamet. There is some confusion here as the preserved evidence is not in good shape or complete.

In the Babylonian version called the "Enuma elish" Tiamet is one of the original pair of god and goddess at the founding of the universe. From these two all later creatures, good or bad, came into creation. This Goddess is in effect the "mother of all."

In the beginning of the tale Tiamet defends her offspring and all of creation from all the minions and forces of evil. But later, when her husband Apsu is killed, she apparently goes mad and decides to end all creation in her grief. This irrational action pits her against all the other Gods and one of her offspring, named Marduk, is talked into opposing her.

In the fight that ensues Marduk finally kills her by shooting an arrow into her mouth as she tries to swallow him. She is a shape shifter as most or all early Dragons are assumed to be so fought him in different guises. Even time seems to be effect which will come up again in the dragons versions. After the battle he uses her dragon body to form the earth and from death we have life and substance.
The first epic of the hero or human and dragon encounter is the "Epic of Gilgamesh." This we know of by clay tablets from Semitic origin. But these tablets are telling about much earlier versions of the story. Here the hero is pitted against a Dragon named Humbaba who also has shape shifting abilities. Gilgamesh with the aid of the god Shamash finally kills the Dragon but gets in trouble with those other gods who were friends with or supported the Dragon and so has a pyrrhic victory and some penalties for his action are imposed.

Not much later we find the Egyptians with a similar story of either Re the sun god or Seth the hero destroying the snake or Dragon named Apophis. Again there is much confusion and contradictions. In this story both the side of good and the side of evil have attributes of the dragon. So once again we see the idea that the winner of the contest with the dragon take on the attributes of the dragon.
The Hittites have a story of the battle of a storm god with the Dragon named Illuyankas which also has contradictions and different versions but also follows the earlier stories in general details.
Later on we get several versions from the Grecian civilization. There is the story of Zeus fighting Typhon. Typhon is described as "Up from his shoulders there grew a hundred snake heads, those of a dreaded dragon." We will deal with the relationship between snakes and dragons a little latter. But suffice for now to say they are essentially the same. And again this monster/dragon is slain by a mighty thunderbolt from Zeus.

Very similar to this is the story of Apollo and Python. Python is alternately described in different versions of the story as a giant snake or a female dragon with many coils. In any case in some versions she is killed by Apollo when the young god shoots an arrow down her throat. But in other version she is taken into his service and becomes a protected oracular serpent at Delphi. It is interesting to note that both Grecian and Romans had serpents or dragons that were kept at various temples including Delphi that were considered to have great knowledge.
It is also interesting that Hercules himself consulted the Oracle of Delphi and was directed on his "12 labors" by the advice he got their. Included in his labors were the destroying of the dragons Ladon and Hydra of the Seven heads.

A good example of another Greek hero is Perseus who instead of fighting for good versus evil killed a dragon that was about to devour the princess Andromeda in order to marry her and gain a kingdom. The dragon was sent by the god Poseidon or Neptune to avenge an insult.

Another hero dragonslayer was Jason who along with his companions the Argonauts had to overcome the unsleeping "dragon of a thousand coils" who guarded the golden fleece. In one version the dragon is ensorcelled into sleeping and they stole away unharmed with the treasure. In another Jason fought the dragon who was a sea dragon and lost the fight and so was swallowed. it was only by intersession of the god Athene that the dragon gave up her prey.

An interesting story related to Jason is that of Cadmus who later went on to be the King of Thebes. He was also given advice by the Oracle of Delphi (who was herself a dragon) that eventually led him to fight and kill a golden crested dragon at the spring of Ares. For killing this dragon Cadmus was forced to serve the god Ares for a year but was then allowed to found his city from the children of the dragons teeth.

History of Eastern Dragons

It has been often said that the finding of dinosaur bones by ancient Chinese was the original basis for their "dragon" stories and myths. In reality there is no definitive proof that this is so. It does seem to make sense as large bones from an unknown large creature (i.e. dinosaurs) would cause a superstitious people to believe in large mythical beast such as dragons.

But this story actually appears to belong to the category of “folklore”, rather than anthropology. The Chinese were a highly civilized peoples and had definite ideas on Dragons which were studied, written about, and philosophized on as if they were rather common creatures to these peoples. This is an attribute that often pervades dragons stories worldwide; offhanded casual acceptance of their presence but debate on what it meant.

The reality in ancient China actually appears to be that Dragons were believed in for far longer than peasants were finding large petrified bones. Some of the earliest writings from the Far East mention Dragons, long before it was reported that bones from this creature were found.

In many early mythologies from Asia we find Dragons as either God's or messengers to the God's. Again like in earlier Mideast stories the Dragons are most often associated with water and wisdom. But unlike the Mideast and later European stories we find little to no fighting and killing of or between Dragons & Gods or normal people and Dragons.

Instead of fear and loathing or even outright worship, here we find Dragons as being desirable to an area and good luck rather than ill falls to those areas where dragons abide. They are often prayed to for deliverance from bad fortune, bad weather, and even bad men. In fact, very early in China's history the emperors are said to be communing with the Dragons to get the advice of the Gods on how to govern their peoples. But somewhere along the way things changed.

One very widespread story is of the Dragon Kings. They were known as the Four Brothers when they traveled together. All were water dragons and served the August Personage Jade who commanded them when, where and how much rain to deliver to the earth.

Each lived in a Crystal palace and ruled one of the Four Seas via an army of crabs and fish, watchman, and ministers. Their names were Ao Ch’in, Ao Jun, Ao Kuang, and Ao Shun. There is no indication that these kings directly communicated with mundane humans. But their ministers, who are presumably all dragons, apparently did.

In Chinese society individualism was strongly discouraged for most of their history. Instead, one was to subjugate ones will to the gods or their representatives including the authorities in power. And that power usually started with the emperor. The emperor himself was to have received his authority and blessings from the heavens and used it for the betterment of all the peoples. But how often in our human histories was this arraignment going to last?

Originally it was believed that the dragons were the ones who talked directly to the Gods. The Emperor was given the God's will for his people and he in turned passed on this message to the people through his growing bureaucracy. In this way the Emperor was seen to be sitting on the throne by the will of the Gods and thus divine himself as long as he passed on the god's will as spoken to him.

As time went on the Emperors apparently decided to cut the Imperial Dragons out of the deal and claimed to be able to communicate directly with the God's. Of course to protect this monopoly no one but the Emperor was allowed to try and communicate with the Dragons.

This is a subtle but definite indication of the strength of the belief that dragons did exist and needed to be communicated with. Otherwise there would have been no reason to give the “no communication” decree and the harsh follow up with strict enforcement.

At this point the Imperial Dragons were said to have 5 claws and other lessor Dragon's 4 or even 3 claws. It was now death to try and "communicate with an imperial Dragon." But there were still those who did not believe that the emperor was the only one who should be allowed to gain wisdom by talking to the wisest of the God's messengers, the Dragons.

There are more than a few stories from the Far East about various men who sought out this draconic source of wisdom. But to try and discredit them the Imperial court called them "four-men" or those who talked to less than Imperial Dragons. The implication was that only the Emperor could talk to a real messenger from the God's.

Later on these same individuals who learned and used dragon wisdom became derided as Foemen. But all of these outlawed individuals seeking out Dragons were supposed to prove their worth to talk to these wise creatures by helping out villagers against bandits or oppressive bureaucrats and such.

The tales told of these dragon inspired warriors were very much like the quests and deeds done by the much later heros and the Knights of the Round Table.


The Japanese also had Dragon Kings. One of these was named Rinjin or Ryujin. Like the Chinese Dragon Kings he also had a palace under the sea. Like many other dragon stories this one has several versions. In one case it is about his queen and octopus and in another it is about his daughter and jellyfish.

In the more popular version the jellyfish was a handsome creature with strong bones, ornate fins, and walked on four feet. The princess had a craving for monkey liver and Rinjin liking to spoil his only daughter sent the jellyfish out to acquire one monkey.

To oblige his king the jellyfish found a monkey and invited him to dine at the kings palace. The monkey agreed but on the way back seeing that the monkey was a fine creature confessed why the king really wanted him.

The monkey said that it was alright but that he had left his liver in a special jar at home and would go and fetch it. Eventually it became apparent that the monkey wasn’t coming back and the jellyfish returned to the Dragon King and told his story.

In his rage for the incompetence shown the Dragon beat the jelly fish into a pulp and exiled him from his palace. That is why to this day jellyfish are in the shape they are in.


The Koreans also had their very own dragon kings as did the Vietnamese. According to the Chinese their “true dragons” had five claws. All others had 4 or 3. Japanese dragons were said to have 4 claws while Korean and Vietnamese dragons had 3.


A Vietnamese story of the Dragonkings starts when a kindly man named Slowcoach finds a cute little animal named Cibet. But his mean brother in jealousy kills the little critter who is then buried under a tree.

Every time that Slowcoach visits the grave silver rains down on him. This does not get missed by the brother who also goes to the grave only to be rained on by mud.

In anger he cuts down the tree and leaves. Slowcoach decides to sue the fallen tree so shapes it into a food trough for his pigs. They of course do marvelously well and this also is noticed by the brother who burns the trough.

Only a little piece of wood escapes the fire and this is fashioned into a fish hook by the gentle Slowcoach. But when he puts the hook into the lake the water raises, the pole and line disappear into this turbulence, the waves and almost drown him. Out of the water walks a beautiful woman who says she is the dragon kings daughter and that the hook is caught in her fathers mouth.

Slowcoach agrees too free it and she turns him into a bubble and takes him to her father. The fish hook removed the dragon king rewards him with a bottle containing a little blue fish.

After returning home with his reward which he sits next to his bed life goes on. But one day Slowcoach realized that every time he left his home and came back afterwards it was cleaned. To solve this mystery he came back unexpectedly one day and caught the little blue fish turning into the dragon kings beautiful daughter and cleaning the house.

In order to keep her there forever Slowcoach broke the bottle and asked her to marry him. She agree on the condition that he make her some bones which he did. They lived happily ever after.

As a side note the jealous brother wanting to also get a beautiful wife jumped into the lake in search of the dragon king, but knowing him for what he was the dragon king turned him into a fish. And that was the last anyone saw him except that Slowcoach seemed to spend a lot more time fishing when he wasn’t with his new bride.


Another Japanese story tells of a dragon named OGoncho who lives in a deep but small fissure lake not far from the Kyoto castle named Ukisima. The area of Japan where the white dragon lives is called Yama-shiro and is reputed to be a former home of some demi-god. Every half century the dragon changes into a golden bird and flies around. If anyone hears this bird calling it is a warning that famine will soon be upon the land.


From the Indian subcontinent comes multiple stories of the serpent-dragon named Vitra. He was said to have absorbed the cosmic waters from the universe and coiled around a great mountain. In order to bring water to both the gods and the humans Indra battled this dragon and proved victorious when he used his thunderbolts to kill this monster and released the waters of life for all.

This tale is very much like several of the Mesopotamian stories and Vitra is sometimes described as the personification of winter. When winter is killed by the Gods water is released in the spring.
The name Vitara is sometimes used in place of Vitra but often this is a completely separate dragon.


Another interesting tale comes from the Island of Borneo about a dragon named Kinabalu. He lived at the summit of a mountain of his name. He was the possessor of a fabled pearl of immense size. The Emperor of China heard about the pearl and sent an army to get it for him but the dragon killed all but a few. These survivors return and told the emperor about the disaster and said he could not be overcome by strength of arms. So the emperor sent his two clever sons named Wee San and Wee Ping to get the pearl.

Wee Ping could not find any way to get the pearl but his brother came up with an idea. When the dragon went away to hunt for food they would steal the pearl and replace it with an identical looking one.

The first part of the plan worked as Wee San used a kite to get to the top of the Mountain to steal and replace the pearl. Unfortunately Kinabalu was not fooled and went after the two sons who were sailing away in a large junk with the real pearl.

A fight ensued and Wee San ordered the sailors to heat up a cannon ball red hot and shoot it at the fast approaching dragon. The dragon thinking it was the pearl swallowed it and in doing so was killed and fell into the sea.

Upon arriving home in China Wee Ping lied to his father about who had actually succored the pearl and was given palaces and rewards. Rather than fighting with his older brother Wee San left his homeland and went back to Borneo where because of his good deeds and wisdom eventually became a king.

The lying brother Wee Ping did not get to enjoy his rewards as he was either punished by the Gods or else there was a curse on the possessor of the stolen dragon pearl. Nothing but sadness and misery befell Ping and he died a broken and poor man.


Another tale from the Orient is of one of the only Dragons ever to be converted to a human religion. This Dragon was named Apalala and lived in the Swat river. Supposedly this young dragon was converted by the Buddha himself. He then went around teaching others until he tried it with other dragons who drove him away but allowed him to continue teaching the humans which is why dragons were here in the first place.


From the islands of Hawaii come stories of the mother of all dragons called MO-O-INANEA. She is know as the “self reliant” dragon and not much is known of her other than all others come from her. The natives are very reluctant to talk about this dragon and some speculate she may still be around and is being protected by the Hawaiians.


From the Island of New Zealand Polynesians comes a story of a dragon monster (called a taniwha) by the name of Hotu-puku. It seems that travelers going between Rotorua and Taupo started disappearing.

Thinking that neighboring war parties were responsible these people sent out their own war band. At a place called Kapenga they instead encountered the dragon Hotu-puku and were attacked. During the fight several warriors were killed and eaten and the war band had to flee.

Organizing a new dragon hunting party was a man named Pitaka. His plan was to hang a noose across a trail and using himself as bait. The plan worked and when Hotu-puku tried to grab the man he was caught in the rope and strangled.

Just to be sure this was the right dragon the party cut open the dragon and sure enough founds the remains of the earlier victims. These victims were buried and then the dragon was roasted and eaten.
For his bravery and daring Pitaka became known as a taniwha expert and was rewarded as well as in great demand. His next exploits come at a place called Te Awan-hou where a fierce sea dragon named Peke-haua lived.

This dragon lived in a deep water filled lair called Te Waro-uri and could not be easily approached. For this adventure Pitaka used some companions and some magic. He descended alone into the watery lair and tied a magic vine onto the dragon while he slept. He then escaped up to his fellow dragon hunters. Other magic vines and traps were set above the dragon and then he was hauled unceremoniously up out of his home and in the fighting became further entangled and then finally killed. This ended the second adventure of our hero.

Next Pitaka went to a place called Kataore near Rotorue in Tiki-tapu. Here some disgruntled villagers told him they were being preyed on by a dragon that had been named Kataore by other locals.

This proved to be a simple execution as the dragon did not flee when the group approached it and it was easily killed. Unfortunately this dragon was actually the pet and friend of chief Tangaroa-mihi and he immediately set of after Pitaka and party and chased them out of the area while killed some of the so called dragon slayers in this battle. This was the last we heard of about Pitaka the dragon slayer.


Perhaps the most famous of the European dragons is the tale of St. George's dragon. There are two versions of the incident. The first was told by the frightened villagers and appears to be somewhat of a cover-up.

In it a dragon appears at the village of Cappadocia and threatens to destroy the region. In fear they first feed off the villages sheep and then finally start feeding the maidens via a lottery until only the princess is left.

She is tied to a stake and this is when George came by and killed the dragon. But there is another version that was first repressed by the villagers. But as the older people died their children started telling a different tale.

In this version a dragon moved into the region as often happens when they are driven out by a more powerful dragon or are young ones looking for a territory. Being used to catching and eating whatever he can this dragon starts first with deer and wild game but then discovers the easy pickings the farm animals in the area are.

No people are bothered but eventually someone (no one remembers exactly who) comes up with a plan to feed the relatively tame dragon at a certain place and at a certain time with the villagers sheep. The idea appears to make this a more predictable dragon. Not knowing knowing any better the intelligent but inexperienced dragon goes along with the plan. Then as he grows he needs even more sheep to fuel his growing body. Eventually this growing young dragon finishes all the available sheep and comes into this now small town and starts looking around for some food.

This same bright individual (likely having only sons) who came up with the sheep plan now comes up with a lottery for feeding off the unmarried maidens in the town. Since after sheep they were the most expendable asset the town agreed to the plan.

Unfortunately the town had no idea how much food a dragon needs and how protective of his hunting territory he could become and eventually the princess was the only maiden left. So she went out in her turn to the sacrificial pole. Here St. George came along and rather than slay the young and ignorant beastie lectures him on the evils of eating people and the values of christianity in general. He and the princess then put the tame but confused dragon on a rope and lead him back to the town where he is officially converted to christianity, leaves the area, and troubles the town no more.


An interesting and almost “Asian” philosophy on dragons seemed to pervade the Rhine River areas of Austria. Here there were many tales told of the “Butz” which was a goblinesk creature and the “Nachtvolk” which we would call elves. But dragons were in another category altogether. They were not considered supernatural but rather simply an unwanted part of nature like wolves, bears, and mountain cats.

There are portions of manuscripts found in the area of Vorarlbeg (Western Austria) that mentions them in the same breath as losing a sheep to a pack of wolves. It appears they occasionally took a horse, cow, or some sheep but were rather shy about confronting mankind and were thus never seriously feared or hunted.

They were discussed in conclaves of the nobles and determined to be “no threat to the cities and castles” and thus it was though better to leave them to the occasional wandering wise-men and scholars just like in China and Asia. In short they were just another hazard faced by people living in the area but not to be especially feared.


Tarasque was said to be a dragon of a different kind. She was reputed to be the daughter of Onachus (a giant serpent) and Leviathan (a water dragon). She came from the sea up the river Rhone and decided to make her home in Southern France. In size she was said to be bigger than 12 elephants, with teeth as large as swords, scales harder than iron, and with a fiery breath.
Here she settled and was said to terrorize the region for many years. Many knights and heros attempted to kill her. She was , however, too powerful and destroyed or drove off all that came against her.

After seven years had gone by a farmer found her skin with nothing left inside it and everyone rejoiced that she had died. But she was a reptile and every 7 years had to shed her skin so quickly reappeared bigger and meaner than ever.

After putting up with her another seven years the villagers tried to lure her into a swamp and to her death, but she refused to be so tricked and destroyed all the remaining bridges in the area in her anger.

Finally, after twenty one years of failure St. Martha was traveling in the area and heard about the villagers plight. She went out to face the dragoness alone in a white dress and armed only with her faith and a jar of holy water. Apparently that was enough as she led Tarasque back to the town where the now docile and trusting creature was hacked to pieces.

In honor of the event a church was build in Martha’s honor and the town was renamed Tarascon.


The village of Brand was a remote village in Germany in a mountainous valley. One day a dragon appeared and began eating the villagers cattle and performing mischief toward the poor villagers. Every effort to destroy this dragon ended in failure.

Finally a traveling scholar arrived at Brand and was told of the creature. Warning them that the cure could be as devastating as the dragon this personage gave them the choice of a water or fire to be rid of their nemesis. They chose the water.

The next evening the skies boiled with thunderstorms and the fiercest storm in memory descended on the mountains above the village. At about midnight the storm had increased to a veritable tempest and the whole hillside where the dragon dwelt collapsed. He could be seen outlined in lightning still attempting to stay above the landslide until a massive bolt of electricity struck him and he disappeared into the muddy torrent.

In the morning the valley at its end was completely covered in a landslide of rocks, trees, giant boulders, and mud. Of the dragon there was never again a sight and the area became known as the “dragons grave.” The scholar was also never seen again.


A famous Norse story was of the dragon Fafnir and Sigurd the dragonslayer. As usual with dragon tales there are several versions of the story. This one starts with the telling of the order of the world and the great serpent Nidhogger which lives at the foot of the tree of life Yggdrasil. Of his kind come the dragons. But the Norse believe that a dragon can be a state of mind also and this tale explores the evils of the human condition.

Once there were two brothers named Regin and Fafnir. They were dwarves. Fafnir was recruited by the gods to kill an enemy of the gods Otter. Having done so he was rewarded by an immense hord of gold. But Fafnir's excessive delight and greed for this gold slowly turned him into a great dragon.
The brother Regin wanted this gold and so persuaded Sigurd (also called Siegfried in some tales) to kill this evil dragon. Together they dug a hole and as Fafnir walked across it Sigurd stuck his sword into the dragon’s unprotected belly and killed him.

It was apparently good luck to eat of certain parts of the dragon and so after Regin cut out the dead creatures heart Sigurd cooked it. As he was taking the heart out of the fire Sigurd burned his fingers and put them into his mouth. The dragons heart had magical properties and even this little taste of the heart allowed the hero to understand the speech of the birds.

The birds told Sigurd that Regin was planning on killing him and take all the gold so the hero loaded all the treasure onto his horse and rode away.

Other versions have the dragon giving the treasure to Sigurd for his nobility and honesty and departing in peace. It is likely that other versions were made into the story of Drachenstein.


Another of the many stories having to do with the power of dragon parts and dragon blood is that of the Wilser dragon. The town of Wilser has a village named Helvetia near it. In this area a dragon came and was playing the usual havoc they apparently can when undupervised by the gods.

The town magistrate approached a convicted murderer and said that if he killed the dragon his banishment would be lifted. The man was called Winckelriedt and he was handy with a sword and so he agreed. In the ensuing fight the dragon was killed, but as the victor caused his sword to be raised in triumph the blood trickled down onto him and he died immediately.


There is a village in Germany called Bezau that apparently has had more than one run in with dragons. In the first tale there was once a very prosperous farm on a hill named Jolerbuhel. One day a beggar came asking for a little money or food. The farmer did not approve of begging so drove him scornfully away.

The stranger shouted back that the stingy farmer was going to be sorry and that he was going to bring back something for the farmer shortly to prove it. The sky suddenly turned dark and black and a cascade of water and debris suddenly came down the nearby creek. In the middle of the flow was the beggar leading a large dragon on a red cord.

As the farmer stood and watched in astonishment the flow of boulders, trees, and mud was being herded toward him by the dragons deft tail. In a matter of minutes the rich farm was destroyed and all within killed by the fraging debris.

Next the stranger took the dragons red cord and led him through the village of Bezau and out the other side never to be seen again.

In the next tale there is also a lake no more than an hours stroll from Bezau. There has always been a legend that there was a large dragon who made the lake his home. The lake is very deep and no one had ever found out exactly how deep it really was.

One day several of the braver youths of the area decided to become heros and find out the exact depth. In the middle of the lake they attempted to fathom the lake bottom . But they changed their minds when a low booming voice said “If thou fathomst me, I will devour thee.”

No one to this day has ever tried to measure the depth of this enchanted dragon lake. This is true even though another story of this same dragon says that he guards a fabulous hord and most believe it is at the bottom of the lake.


There is a deep cleft in the ground in Sussex England named after the dragon who had resided there. His name was Knucker and he was reputed to do the usual mischief that most European Dragons are said to do. In short he wasn’t wanted by the locals.

As usual there are several versions of how he was killed. One is the tried and worn one of the king offering the princess to anyone capable of killing this dragon. And eventually some knight prevailed, killed the dragon and got his reward.

The other two versions are interesting in that they both involved locals poisoning Knucker. One had a local farmer’s son named Jim Pulk who put poison in a pie that the dragon ate and then died. And of course reusing a classic theme the boy then also died from sucking on his hands and forgetting there was still poison on them.

The third version is that the Mayor of the closest city named Arundel offered a reward and a man named Jim Puttock accepted. In this tale Jim put some poison in some pudding and then when confronted by Knucker talked him into trying the pudding. According to an article in the Sussex County Magazine Jim lived to a ripe old age after killing the dragon.


An ancient Teutonic myth of unknown origins tells the tale of The Black Worm which is another name for a dragon. In this tale the Black was discovered sleeping on a hoard of gold when discovered by a local couple. Since the gold pile was immense the dragon could not quite curl all the around it and this man took advantage of that fact to climb up and pick out choice pieces.

But after grabbing all he could he got greedy and called to his female companion to come up and get her share. Unfortunately this noise woke the dragon and he roared his wrath at their thievery. The man threw down his ill gotten gains and fled. Looking back over his shoulder he saw the dragon and the gold sink out of sight into the ground, never more to be seen.


Another ancient German tale is about a hoard left by a scholar under three large boulders. Scholars were often believed to be magical and found in or near the company of dragons.

Atop these boulders was another large rock now called the Galina gorge outcrop. Shepherds used to shelter from the heat or rain under this rock. The story tells of a young shepherd boy who kept finding pieces of silver and gold under them. Eventually the boys father found out and surmised that they were part of the scholars hoard which was now guarded by a dragon.

Going to collect this hoard and climbing under the three boulders the father suddenly encountered a terrible thunderstorm. He escaped but the three boulders were buried until only the large rock on top was left flat on the ground.

Locals still believe that someday there will be another great storm with lightning, terrible winds, and water. Whoever is brave enough to be waiting on the bridge below will become heir to this hord as the dragon leaves.


The most famous of the dragons of Ireland went by the name of Ollipeist. The story goes that when St. Patrick came to Ireland the first thing he did was rid the island of snakes. But then he turned his attention to the dragons and started imprisoning them. Knowing his fate if he stayed Ollipeist fled the country and in so doing left his mark with his tail in what is now called the Shannon Valley.


On the Island of Largo was a ruler by the name of Ypocras. Somehow he angered an unnamed goddess who turned his beautiful daughter into a fierce looking dragon. But still her people loved her and called her “The lady of the land” and her father built her a cave inside her former castle.

It was said that if any hero was brave enough to kiss her on the mouth she would revert to the beautiful princess once more. Many would be heros came calling but all went away in fear and died miserably shortly thereafter. The lady is still waiting for her true love.


The German village of Sonntag was a prosperous mountain village until one day a dragon appeared. The death and destruction to the region was typical of dragon stories told at this time. Nobody could kill or drive the dragon away.

But one day a Venediger appeared, befriended the dragon and rode away with him. A Venediger was the German word for supernatural being and could be a dwarf or goblin with a love for crystals and rare minerals. It is also the word for the rock merchants from the city of Venice so it was either a small Venician or a dwarf, both with a love of crystals and dragons.


There are many stories told of Jormungand by the Norse people. He is said to be the offspring of the god of mischief Loki and his bride Angurboda. He is also called the Midgard serpent who lives in the sea and is so long that he encircles the whole planet and has swallowed his own tail. This is why he is also prominent in their stories as the World Serpent. There are to many stories and versions to tell here. But they are another example of dragon and serpent stories told at this time.


The city of Heidelburg has always had a love affair with dragons unlike most other parts of Europe. For much of the early middle ages this city seemed to be the very epicenter of friendly dragon activity.

Dragon eggs were first found in the Neckar river nereby. When incubated in the home and raised properly they were grew into loyal protectors of the hearth of the home. The dragons all had the ability to breath fire and so were especially loved by the local blacksmiths who produced the finest steel in the region because of their reptile helpers.

The males of this larger species could fly and a few of the especially brave of the city residents actually became dragon riders. The female dragons were more water lovers and often helped the fishermen. The females were also said to be highly intelligent and some could converse in the human tongues which made them very popular with the scholars and wise-women who would spend much time learning philosophy from them.

In addition to the big dragons there was a race of dwarf flying dragons who nested in the warm hillsides near the city. They were very popular with the city dwellers who did not have the room of the country residents and farmers. AQ small dragon would be a better asset to an apartment dweller than their larger cousins.

All this happy interactions and love affair between the people of Heidelburg and the dragons came to an end when the christian church moved into the area and the clergymen convinced the people that dragons were actually the offspring of the creatures of hell. When they were turned away from and even killed by their former friends the dragons saddly all left the area and were not seen again. Many in Heidelburg wish they would come back and festivals commemorate this ancient friendship.


In the Austrian capitol of Innsbruck of the province of Tyrol was a narrow gorge carved by the Sill river. The Sill ran through a mountain forest that was shunned by the locals because of the rumors of a dragon living there guarding a huge horde of gold.

The locals knew this was true because after floods they would find pieces of the dragons hord washed out of his lair by the high waters.

Problems arose when the dragon found out that some of his gold was missing and went on a rampage to find where it was. He would destroy fields, farms, orchards, and houses until he found his missing gold. No one could stand against the dragon and the region became impoverished and desolate.

A nobleman of royal birth by the name of Haymo lived some distance away but heard of the cities plight. He was a giant of a man standing some 12 feet in height. He gathered up his armor and weapons and came searching for the dragon. When he found the creature the battle began.
The tide quickly turned against the dragon and he fled to the refuge of his cave in the forest. But Haymo pursued his foe into his very lair and after a fierce struggle killed the dragon and cut out his tongue to bring back to the waiting locals.

Upon seeing this proof the locals asked their new hero to become their leader and he accepted. Many more adventures befell this dragonslayer but in later years he regretted all the killing he had to do and founded the monastery of Wilten on the spot where he had killed the dragon years earlier.


Another dragonslayer was St. Margaret. She lived in Antiochia and the story says that she converted to christianity and was then tempted by the governor Olybrius who wanted her as wife. She was imprisoned in a tower and tortured when she refused his advances.

She was also tortured and tempted by satan who finally sent a dragon against her. But she was strong in her belief in the Lord and made the sign of the cross over the dragon and he was killed. After this the governor lost patience with this christian virgin and dragonslayer and had her beheaded. This is still another example of stories that show dragonslayers have a short life after killing a dragon.


This is the story of St. Magnus and his exploits against dragonkind. As a historical figure Magnus is known to have been born between 1698 and 1702 and is variously claimed by the Irish, Romans, and Alemannians. He died sometime between 1750 and 1772.

With some companions he traveled into the then pagan or neo pagan areas of Southern Germany where he constantly battled on behalf of his christian beliefs. He was credited with founding several notable churches and monasteries.

Magnus had his first encounter with a dragon at the city of Kempton. This city was originally founded by the Roman’s around the time of Christ but over the intervening years became a battleground for beliefs. It was repeatedly conquered and occupied by both pagan and christian armies only to be lost again. It was certainly an interesting place to live in if you liked war.

When Magnus came to the city it was said to be empty of men and filled with dragons and snakes. Against his companions advice he decided to sleep in the open just outside the city and was predictably attacked that evening by the dragon (worm) Boas. Calling on the power of his God Magnus was able to kill this powerful boss dragon and chase the rest of them out of the city. The humans moved back in right after this of course.

His next encounter was in a valley called the Rosshaupten on his way to the city of Fussen. Here he had to pass by a dragon who allowed no one to leave his valley unmolested unless he was out hunting. This dragon lived in a cave next to a beautiful apple tree. Everything else was said to be bare and desolate because of the dragons wrath.

Trusting again in his God Magnus walked up to the lair and challenged the beast. The dragon rushed out to eat this impudent holy man whereupon the human tossed resin and pitch into the dragons mouth which erupted in flame and burned the creature to death.

The local version of this is that magnus and his companion Tozzo built a monastery on this very spot. But the official church version is that the monastery was built at Waltenhofen a mile further up the valley from the dragon slaying.

Interestingly many other villages in the area claimed to have had dragons that were driven off by this saint as well. The village of Ronsberg was one of these. Here it was claimed that three dragons were ransacking the area. One of the locals was a sorcerer and he had succeeded in convincing these dragons to spare the village and instead raid the other areas.

This they did until nothing was left standing or alive except Ronsberg where they turned their attention to once more. Before the sorcerer could again negotiate with the dragons they killed and ate him. The villagers offered the dragons a cow which held them long enough for them to bring Magnus to the village.

He brought with him a tribe of bears that he had tamed and set them on the dragons. Outnumbered the dragons tried to get back to their lairs but eventually they were burned out and destroyed by the saint and his tame bears.

In still another story Magnus killed a family of dragons but spared the young one because he was innocent of the crimes of his older relatives. The villagers raised the young dragon and fed him on mice and rats.

In return as the dragon grew he helped to clear the forest of logs and rocks. He even cut the trees into lumber for the locals. As he continued grow he cleared snow from the fields and even helped build new roads. But he was constantly hungry.

The local villagers refused to feed him anything other than the vermin he could catch and so one night he stole a calf for food. Maddened the villagers attempted to kill him in his sleep. One of the villagers cut him with an ax and a stream of milk shot from the wound.

This was by far the best milk ever tasted and so the locals tried to make amends to their dragon. But he would have nothing to do with them and left the area and never came back.


This the story about a well regarded and handsome hero named Dobrynja who lived with his mother who was very wise. He always had to listened to her sage advice on just about everything. Thatg may explain why he was always going off on quests and such. She especially counseled him never to bath in the river several hours away from their home as it was home to a terrible dragon who killed or imprisoned everyone who went into the river.

One hot summer day the hero was riding near this same river and forgetting his mothers warning decided to take a cool bath. Taking of his weapons and armor he left them on his horse as he strolled leisurely into the river to cool off.

He now remembered his mothers words that the rivers first wave would spit fire, the second sparks, and the third wave would bring steam. But everything seemed peaceful and calm.

Suddenly the sky turned black and a three headed dragon with seven tails flew down at him saying “I am Gorynytch. It was prophesied that a hero named Dobrynja would be my death, but instead I see a naked fish in my river that I think I will eat.”

To escape the hero swam under the water and out of sight of the dragon until he reached the shore where he had left his weapons. Exiting the waters he discovered the horse and all his possessions had disappeared and the dragon was waiting.

Flames came from one dragon head, steam came from another, and sulfur was thick in the air. Looking around in his helpless condition the hero saw only his helmet was still here so he knelt down beside it. The dragon thinking he was begging for his life did not immediately strike.

In this short interval the hero had filled the helmet with sand and rock and then jumped up and swung it so mightily that one of the heads was knocked off and the dragon fell to the shore stunned.
Gorynytch now begged for his life. But not for himself so much as for his own hatchlings who would starve if he was killed. The noble hearted hero felt sorry for the dragon and gave him his parole provided he never again attacked him and the creature agreed.

The dragon had other things in mind now however, and immediately flew up North to the city of Kiev and kidnapped the High Duke Vladimir’s virgin daughter.

On his way home Dobrynja saw the dragon flying towardhis caves with the Dukes daughter and changed his course to go straight away to Kiev where he met with the Duke to see what had happened. It seemed that no one had the courage to go after the Duke’s daughter and when he was informed that the hero and the dragon were recently seen together at the river the Duke order Dobrynja to go to “his friend the dragon” and retrieve the girl.

Not knowing what to do the hero went home and told his mother what had happened. His mother was very wise and sent her son to bed to rest. That night she made a special kind of silk whip and in the morning told the hero to go get his grandfathers horse. He was then to go to the cave which would be unguarded and by laying the whip to the horse the dragons younglings would be trampled to death.

Doing what he was advised he had just destroyed the brood before the dragon rushed in to see what was happening. Calling the knight an oath breaker the fight was joined and the two antagonists fought for 3 days and nights until Dobrynja remembered the whip. Using it he soon subdued Gorynytch and then quickly cut off his remaining two heads.

But the knight had been wounded and sorely taxed by the fight so he bathed in the dragons blood for three days before he recovered and used the whip to remove any poison in the blood he was soaking in. Next he went out to search for the Dukes daughter.

One by one the hero searched eleven caves and freed hundreds of the dragons prisoners. But it was not until the twelfth cave that he found the virgin tied to the wall with golden chains. He freed her and took her back to her father where the story ends without telling us what his reward was.
and Western Dragon : whes-turn drag-en

PHYSIOLOGY: Thick, long bodied, scaly skin, four strong legs, two bat-like wings, wedge-shaped heads, and long necks. They usually are portrayed as breathing fire. Some breeds of these dragons have been known to be shape changers, and others have the chameleon power to change color of their background. They are sometimes displayed as having a spade or spiked tail. They eat but once a month on a sheep or ox, or even a human (myth says they prefer virgin maidens). They can be any color, or many colors, depending on the breed of the dragon. See the dragon Physiology page for more info.

HISTORY: When most people think "dragon" they most likely think of the Western dragon. Western dragons are usually portrayed as evil, mean, and bloodthirsty. They were also known to have huge hoards of gold and jewels hidden in their lairs. The most famous dragons are portrayed as Western-type dragons: St. George and the Dragon
, Beowulf and the Dragon, and Draco in the movie DragonHeart. Some stories have the western dragon as the Devil in Christianity. Other stories in legend say that eating a dragons' heart will give the consumer the power of understanding birds, eating the dragons' tongue enables the person to win any argument, and rubbing the dragons' blood on skin will protect against stab wounds. Another myth references Vlad Drakul to mean Son of the Dragon, or Devil. The end of the dragon came with Christianity, and knights that were eager to prove their faith. The knights quickly discovered that dragon-hunting was very profitable, and soon most the dragons in the world were destroyed in a very short time. Vikings had dragon figureheads on the prow of their ships. The dragons on the ships were believed to endow keen site and cunning to the Viking warriors. Today the Welsh flag still has a red dragon on a green/white background, and the red dragon is their national symbol.

Eastern Dragon : ees-turn drag-en

PHYSIOLOGY: These three species of dragons look very similar, but come from different parts of the world. They all have sinuous serpentine bodies, have four legs, they do not usually breath fire, usually shown not to have wings, but are illustrated to have them which is the Adult Imperial Dragon. The dragons are said to be made up of many different types of animals of the Earth: the body of a snake, scales of a carp (fish), head of a camel, horns of a giant stag (deer), the eyes of a hare (rabbit), ears like a bull, a neck like an inguana, belly of a frog, paws like a tigers, and claws like an eagle. Most of the time they are shown to have a lion-type mane around its neck, on its chin, and on each elbow. They have two antler-type horns decorating their wide-mouthed head, and two long "feeler" whiskers spreading out from their snout. Eastern dragons have 117 scales, 81 infused with yang, the good, and 36 infused with yin, the bad. This evens out the dragons temper and personality.

There are three families of Eastern dragons: 3 toed, 4 toed, and 5 toed. Three toed dragons are Japanese. Four toed dragons are Indonesian or Korean. Five toed dragons are Chinese. They are shown in the colors blue, black, white, red, or yellow. Oriental dragons are usually shown with a pearl in their mouth, under their chin, or in their claws. This is apparently where the dragon gets its power, and how it ascends to heaven. Roasted swallows are the Chinese dragon's favorite food.

HISTORY: In China dragons are known as Lung. There are four main kinds of Lung: Tien-lung , The Celestial Dragon: who protect the places of the Gods, Shen-Lung, The Spiritual Dragon: who control the wind and the rain, Ti-Lung , The Earth Dragon which control rivers, and water on the Earth, and Fut's-Lung , The Underworld Dragon which guards precious metals and gems. Separate dragons control the rivers of the North, South, East and West. The commander of all the River Dragons is Great Chien-Tang who is blood red, has a firey mane, and is 900 feet long.

Eastern dragons are portrayed as good, kind, and intelligent. Oriental Dragons have the most recorded history in the world, especially in China going back thousands of years. In history they have a very close link to the weather. It is said that some of the worst flooding in Asia's History were caused when a mortal has upset a dragon. In Chinese history, the 5 toed dragon is the symbol of power, and are considered "Imperial Dragons". Long ago, it became law in China that only the Emperor could have a five-clawed dragon displayed on his robes or illustrated on anything the Emperor owned. It was usually a Yellow dragon, thought to be the most superior of all the colored dragons. If someone other than the Emperor was caught wearing the symbol of the 5-toed dragon, he was put to death.

Eastern dragons are still shown in parades around the world celebrating the Chinese New Year with the Dragon Dance.
Learn more about Eastern Dragons, follow these links!
Dragons in Ancient China
Chinese Dragon Info

Faerie Dragon : fair-ee drag-en

PHYSIOLOGY: Very small dragons, being only 1'-5' long, any color, with large eyes, and large butterfly-type wings. These dragons are vegetarian as they only eat fruit, vegetables, nuts, and so on.

HISTORY: These are the rarest of all the dragon, as only a few have ever been reported. Some myths might come from some large butterflies that are around the world. It is said in legend that these dragons sometimes carry faeries from city to city. Since only a few have ever been seen, the history of these types of dragons are next to none.

Wyvern : wi-vurn

PHYSIOLOGY: These are dragons which have two wings, but only two legs. Sometimes shown as having claws on the wings, acting like another pair of "hands". The Wyvern is sometimes depicted as having a razor sharp stinger filled with poison on the end of its tail.

HISTORY: The history of the wyvern seems to come from Europe. The history of this dragon is not so clear, it seems to be mixed in with the history of the 4-legged dragon. Wyvern's have been depicted in heraldry on shields and banners for hundreds of years, and is considered a sign of strength to those who bear the symbol. One of the more famous wyverns is Vermithrax in the movie DragonSlayer.

Hydra : hi-drah

PHYSIOLOGY: These are dragons which have multiple necks and heads. They may or may not have wings or legs.

HISTORY: In Greek mythology Hercules fought a grand hydra with 8 heads (history tells us 6 to 9 heads for this particular hydra). Every time he managed to slash one off with sword, two would come in its place. He finally figured out by burning the stump with a torch, it could not grow another head. That is how Hercules rid the world of the mighty hydra. Also in Greek mythology, Jason killed a hydra to get the Golden Fleece.

Pernese Dragon

PHYSIOLOGY: These dragons are from the "Dragonriders of Pern" series by Anne McCaffrey. They have four legs, and two wings. They have smooth, leathery skin without scales. The dragons eyes are compound and faceted like a fly's that can change color depending on the mood of the dragon. They have a telepathic abilities with other dragons, and their rider. Pernese dragons can also teleport into "between", which is a void, to escape danger. Gold and green dragons are Female. Bronze, brown and blue are Male. They can breath fire by first swallowing a certain type of flammable rock known as Firestone.

HISTORY: The colonists of Pern (A world created from the stories by Anne McCaffrey) genetically engineered these huge dragons from their small cousins, Firelizards. Pernese dragons and their riders have a life-long relationship, this is started at the Impression. This is when the dragons hatch and choose their human partner. If the human partner dies without the dragon, the dragon will go between permanently. If the dragon dies, the human usually wastes away until they pass on.

Drake : Drayk

PHYSIOLOGY: This is a Western-type dragon with only legs and no wings. There are two types of drakes, Fire and Cold. FireDrakes have the breath of flame, and are usually reddish in color. ColdDrakes have the breath of snow and hail, and are usually white or light bluish in color. These types of dragons do not fly, they look like large lizards being about 4' - 40' long.

HISTORY: This dragon has links to the Western dragon in history, but no solid history has been produced. Sometimes young western dragons are mistaken for drakes because of the lack of wings until they reach maturity. In Europe there are many cities named after this dragon: Drakeford, Drakeshill, etc.

Amphiptere : Am-fih-teer

PHYSIOLOGY: These are dragons with only wings.

HISTORY: The most famous amphiptere is Quetzalcoatl (kwet-zah-coat-al), the winged and feathered serpent god from Mexican history. Scientists think that the myth of Quetzalcoatl started with a bird, the Quetzal. This bright green bird has tail feathers of over two feet long, and when it flies, the bird looks like a shimmering serpent.

Wyrm/Worm: Wurm

(c)Michael Whelan
PHYSIOLOGY: These are dragons which have no legs or wings; Or sometimes referred to as a very ancient dragon. Also known as The Guivre (Gy-veer).

HISTORY: These dragons seem to have originated in England, and are said to live in forests and wells. They love any place near water.There are many famous worms in England's history, the most famous perhaps is the Lambton Worm. This is about an Heir to Lambton Hall in England who caught the small worm, but thought it too ugly to eat, so he thew it in the local well. Over the years the worm grew to enormous proportions and left the well to harass the locals. When Lambton came back from a war to see the horror he had created, and was told by witch he must slay the worm, but also must kill the next creature he saw. He slayed the worm, but unfortunately, the next living creature he saw was his own father, of whom he could not kill. It was said that the Lambton family was cursed for the next nine generations, and doomed to die abroad, and never at home.

Lindworm/Lindorm: Lind-wurm/Lind-oarm

PHYSIOLOGY: These are dragons which have two legs, and no wings. They usually have very long tails, and short legs.

HISTORY: Lindworms were apparently discovered by Marco Polo while crossing Central Asia. He described them as, "Swifter than it looks. Easily able to take down a man on a galloping horse." These types of dragons (along with the Oroboros) are frequently represented as "prima materia" in the first stage of the Alchelmy process.

Sea Serpent : See-Sur-pent

PHYSIOLOGY: These are dragons that live in water, fresh or salt.

HISTORY: Since man has been sailing on boats, sea serpents have been in history. These creatures were shown on maps early in European history, where unknown territory was marked "HERE BE DRAGONS". Some scientists believe that these sea serpents sailers were actually gigantic squid, large masses of sea kelp, or even seafaring dinosaurs.. The Basilosaurus had a very long body, and short neck, its mouth filled with long sharp teeth. If it came out of the water near a boat, it could very much be thought of as a sea serpent. "Nessie" the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland, is one famous "sea serpent".
Learn more about The Legend Of Nessie and Sea Serpents

Ouroboros : or-oh-bor-us

PHYSIOLOGY: This is a dragon who holds its tail it its mouth.

HISTORY: First discovered in Egypt, and later in Greece,it is the symbol of the universe. It also is sometimes referred to being the symbol of "eternity" or "never ending". The name Ouroboros means "tail eater".
A similar dragon is his Norse cousin the Midgard Serpent (or here for more info) whose huge body circles the entire world. He was also known for biting his tail, when he was not trying to bite the Norse god Thor, whom was eventually killed by the gigantic dragon.
Find out more about the Ouroboros

Amphisbaena : Am-fiz-bee-nah

PHYSIOLOGY: This is a dragon that has two heads, one in the front of the body, and one at the tip of its tail. With one head holding the "tail-neck" it can roll around in any direction in a hoop. It is usually portrayed as having a scaly body, feathered wings, and feet of a rooster. It's name means "one that goes in both directions".

HISTORY: This dragon originates from Africa. Stories say when the female amphisbaena was looking over her eggs, she could keep one head awake at all times. Today, there is a lizard named after this dragon which has markings on its tail that look like a head. When threatened, it lifts its tail and scatters back and forth to confuse its attacker.

Naga : nah-gah

PHYSIOLOGY: These are pseudo-dragons who are usually portrayed as having a human head and serpentine body, and no wings.

HISTORY: The history of these creatures seem to come from India, which the Nagas worked with the gods. Nagas were patrons of water and clouds, but could cause flooding or drought if disturbed. In some stories, the naga can shape-change at will from human to snake form. It's been told that their race was very magical, and were scholars to those who met their interest. More info can be obtained here: Nagas or Naga: The Serpent


Dragons have been in mythology and legend for thousands of years. Almost every country in the world as some sort of dragon story. Where did they originate from? Did people actually SEE dragons? By some strange chance, were their dinosaurs still roaming the earth only a few thousand years ago? Were some of the dragons people saw actually lizards that have extra skin, and can glide such as the Kuehneosaurus,or the flying dinosaurs the Archaeopteryx or Pterosaurs?

Maybe, but these are questions no one can answer. Dragons will always live on the Earth, we do have real dragons here! There is even a genus of lizard called draco. Two "dragon" lizards are water dragons, and Komodo dragons. The water dragon is a popular small lizard to keep as pets. The Komodo dragon (not discovered until 1912!) is the largest known lizard today, reaching lengths of 10 feet, and 150 pounds. The bright yellow tongue could be mistaken for a flame, and its vicious nature would scare anyone away.

Some other "dragons" are the Dragonfly, and the Snapdragon flower. The Dragonfly could have been mistaken for a small flying dragon in the past, although, in Jurassic times, Dragonflies were as big as a seagull. The Snapdragon flower looks like a red mouth with a gaping yellow throat, which could be where it's name came from. Humans have even named one of the Constellations in the sky Draco for the shape of the constellation is that of a dragon.