Posted by Guest at Feb 27, 2014 1:42 am in craft, dragons, On Writing Romance, workshop
By Eilis Flynn and Jacquie Rogers
The names may change, but whatever you call them, dragons have been good and evil, sometimes a symbol of order and sometimes of chaos. How much do you know about dragons? Find out with this sorta-quiz!
Q: Why don’t we have dragon stories in North America?
A: We do! There’s Mishipizheu around the Great Lakes, Thunderbird, and Quetzalcoatl! If you’re surprised we include Quetzalcoatl, that’s because descriptions of dragons differ from region to region. The typical Western dragon is a lizard-like winged creature, and often it will breathe fire, as opposed to the dragons of the East, which are wingless, serpentine, water-based. So Quetzalcoatl fits in!
Q: We always hear about those English dragons! Does France have any?
A: Sure! A dragon named Tarasque ruled a town in southwestern France. Warriors came from all over to slay it, but did not succeed. Using only her faith and a jug of holy water, St. Martha tamed the dragon — and the villagers killed it. In honor of the event, the town was renamed Tarascon.
Q: Are there any mentions of dragons in the Bible?
A: If Kirk Douglas didn’t fight one, I’m doubting it
B: I’m guessing there was?
(B)! The references to the “sea-monster” or “pole serpent” in the Bible, the “leviathan” of the stories, seem to be very close to the idea of the dragon.
Q: Are dragons of the East connected to the desert?
A: This question is planted here, right?
B: Are there any deserts in the Far East?
(A). The dragons of the East are associated with rainfall and bodies of water, usually serpentine, often seen as an authority figure. And yes, there are deserts in the Far East, but there are no dragon myths connected to them. Maybe.
Q: Are Eastern dragons lizard-like the way they are in the West?
A: Have you been paying attention at all?
B: More snakelike than lizard
The answer, of course, is (B). The Vedic god of storms, Varuna, is regarded as the king of the naga, the local version of the dragon. The naga, also known as a snake-spirit, guarded treasures, just like in Western myths, and is often regarded as a deity.
Q: Are Chinese dragons anything like the Indian ones?
A: Are there Chinese dragons?
B: Kissing cousins, really
(B) Dragons are integral to Chinese society. The dragon was the symbol of the emperors.
Q: Are they evil or are they good?
A: Dragons are good guys in China. To say that someone is a dragon is a good thing.
Q: What’s the deal with the different-numbered claws?
A: Historically, the symbol of the golden and five-clawed dragon was assigned to the emperor, the four-claws to the nobility, and the three-claws to the bureaucrats. The term “descendants of the dragon” was used by the Chinese to refer to themselves.
Q: How long have dragons been a big deal in China?
A: Long, long ago! At least seven thousand years, if the discovery of a dragon statue from around the fifth millennium BCE is any clue!
Q: Is the naga origin story pretty common?
A: Yes. The Cambodian myth says the people descended from a naga princess and a human, while in the Vietnamese version, the dragon king married the daughter of the bird king. The daughter established the Vietnamese people, thus giving the proverb, “Children of the dragon, grandchildren of the gods.”
Q: Are Japanese dragons still big snakes?
A: The dragons of Japan are similar to Chinese ones, but not identical. Among other things, the Japanese dragons are shown with spines on their backs. Their dragons are considered to be the society’s founders. Again, the Japanese regard themselves as “children of the dragon.”
Q: What could be dragons described as in the Pacific region?
Cadmus Slaying the dragon
Yes! The Asia Pacific dragons are still water-based creatures, but the farther east we go, the more you read about dragons that sound like crocodiles. The Philippine dragon bakunawa, however, is said to look like a catfish.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to dragonlore! Every culture’s dragon represents something unique. Sometimes they are protectors of the people, and sometimes those dragons are evil. Sometimes they can fly; sometimes they’re sea serpents. Sometimes the dragons have five claws, or four, or three, or none at all. But there are always stories about dragons.
Curious? If you want to know more—and there’s LOTS more—Jacquie Rogers and I will be presenting a workshop for FF&P about dragons around the world from March 3 through 16! Come join us!
Eilis Flynn spends most of her days as a freelance copy editor. She also writes fantasies and super-hero romances. Her latest book is the historical fantasy WEAR BLACK. Currently, she’s working on a book about dragon myths around the world.
She may be found at eilisflynn.com or emsflynn.com (editing).
Jacquie Rogers is a former software designer, campaign manager, deli clerk, and cow milker, but has always been a bookworm. Reading is her passion–westerns, fantasies, historicals of any era, and especially with a dash of romance and humor. Her latest books are the MUCH ADO series, filled with humor, romance, and opinionated animals.
She may be found HERE