Animals are my friends, and I don't eat my friends - George Bernard Shaw

Dragon

Mythical Dragon swallowing its own tail

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Engraving of Ouroboros (a dragon swallowing its own tail) by Lucas Jennis

 

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i have the book on the dragons

i heard that in Krakow Poland, a dragon use to rule Krakow!!! WOW!!

Dragons are mythical creatures

Dragons are real in myth, it doesn't' really matter if they actually exist in reality.  But what a creature !

If dragons were real, they'd only have hind legs and a pair of wings; no vertebrae can have more than four limbs. Unless you prove me wrong. If you can, go ahead; I'd love to have a reason to believe

DRAGONS FAIL

Yay dragons

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The dragon is a mythological beast typically portrayed as a big and mighty serpent or some other reptile endowed with magic or unearthly qualities. Mythical animals having some or most of the traits often related with dragons are common  worldwide.

Overview

Dragons are usually depicted as serpentine or reptilian, hatching from eggs and having exceedingly large, typically scaly, bodies; they are sometimes shown as having big eyes, an attribute that is the origin for the word for dragon in many societies, and are frequently (but not always) depicted with wings and a fiery breath.

 

Some dragons have wings, but appear like snakes. Dragons can have a different number of legs, from none to four and more as described in early European writing. Modern day depictions of dragons show them as very big, but a few early European descriptions show them as the the size of bears or a butterfly.

A Tribute to Dragons

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Dragons (or dragon-like beasts) are common in legends around the globe, but various cultures see them differently. Chinese dragons and Eastern dragons mostly are normally seen as kindly, whereas European dragons are commonly malicious. Malevolent dragons also happen in Persian mythology and other cultures.

A leading difference comes from symbolism: Like real world reptiles that live in water, the Eastern dragon controls water in an agricultural water-driven society. This is in contrast to the western dragon, which controls fire to display its mythical power.

Dragons are very popular in China. With the phoenix, the dragon was a symbol of the Chinese emperors. Dragon costumes handled by various people are a regular sight at Chinese festivals.

Dragons are often held to have considerable spiritual meaning in different religions and cultures. In a lot of Eastern and Native American societies dragons were, and still are, seen as symbolic of the primal forces of life.

Associated with wisdom, more so than humans, and longevity, they are normally said to have magic and supernormal powers, often associated with wells, rain, and rivers. They are also said to be capable of human speech, and to be able to talk to the animals in some cultures.

Dragons are very common imaginary beings in books, role-playing games and computer games.

The term dragoon, for infantry that rode by horse and still fight as foot soldiers, comes from an early firearm, the "dragon", which was a musket that spat flame when fired.

Symbolism

In medieval times dragons were often a sign of rejection and betrayal, wrath, envy, and eventually great disaster. If a dragon had many heads it was symbolic of decadence and oppression and heresy. Dragons were represented as symbols of independence, leadership and strength. They also described wisdom; slaying a dragon not only gave access to its treasure hoard, but meant the hero of the story was cleverer than the cunning beast he had overcome.

The Chinese especially see dragons as good luck.

Joseph Campbell in the The Power of Myth viewed the dragon as a symbol of divinity or transcendence because it represents the unity of Heaven and Earth by combining the serpent form (earthbound) with the bat/bird form (airborne).

Dragons embody both male and female traits, as in the example from Aboriginal myth that raises baby humans to adulthood, training them for survival in the world. Another striking illustration of the way dragons are portrayed is their ability to breathe fire but live in the ocean. Dragons represent the joining of the opposing forces of the cosmos.

Yet another symbolic view of dragons is the Ouroborus, or the dragon encircling and eating its own tail. When shaped like this the dragon becomes a symbol of eternity, natural cycles, and completion.

Chinese dragon, colour engraving on wood, Chinese school, nineteenth Century

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Chinese dragon, colour engraving on wood, Chinese school, nineteenth Century

In Christianity

The Latin word for a dragon, draco (genitive: draconis), actually means snake or serpent, emphasizing the European association of dragons with snakes, not lizards or dinosaurs as they are commonly associated with today. The Medieval Biblical interpretation of the Devil being associated with the serpent who tempted Adam and Eve, thus gave a snake-like dragon connotations of evil. Generally speaking, Biblical literature itself did not portray this association (save for the Book of Revelation, whose treatment of dragons is detailed below). The demonic opponents of God, Christ, or good Christians have commonly been portrayed as reptilian or chimeric.

In the Book of Job Chapter 41, there are references to a sea monster Leviathan, which has some dragon-like characteristics.

In Revelation 12:3, an enormous red beast with seven heads is described, whose tail sweeps one third of the stars from heaven down to earth (held to be symbolic of the fall of the angels, though not commonly held among biblical scholars). In most translations, the word "dragon" is used to describe the beast, since in the original Greek the word used is drakon (δράκον).

In iconography, some Catholic saints are depicted in the act of killing a dragon. This is one of the common aspects of Saint George in Egyptian Coptic iconography, on the coat of arms of Moscow, and in English and Catalan legend. In Italy, Saint Mercurialis, first bishop of the city of Forlě, is also depicted slaying a dragon. Saint Julian of Le Mans, Saint Veran, Saint Crescentinus, Saint Margaret of Antioch, Saint Martha, and Saint Leonard of Noblac were also venerated as dragon-slayers.

However, some say that dragons were good, before they fell from grace, as humans did from the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve's Original Sin was committed. Also contributing to the good dragon argument in Christianity is the fact that, if they did exist, they were created as were any other creature, as seen in Dragons In Our Midst, a contemporary Christian book series by author Bryan Davis.

Chinese zodiac

The years 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024, 2036, 2048, 2060 etc. (every 12 years — 8 AD) are considered the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese zodiac.

The Chinese zodiac purports that people born in the Year of the Dragon are healthy, energetic, excitable, short-tempered, and stubborn. They are also supposedly honest, sensitive, brave, and inspire confidence and trust. The Chinese zodiac purports that people whose zodiac sign is the dragon are the most eccentric of any in the eastern zodiac. They supposedly neither borrow money nor make flowery speeches, but tend to be soft-hearted which sometimes gives others an advantage over them. They are purported to be compatible with people whose zodiac sign is of the rat, snake, monkey, and rooster.

The golden dragon

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The golden dragon

In East Asia

Dragons are commonly symbols of good luck or health in some parts of Asia, and are also sometimes worshipped. Asian dragons are considered as mythical rulers of weather, specifically rain and water, and are usually depicted as the guardians of pearls.

In China, as well as in Japan and Korea, the Azure Dragon is one of the Four Symbols of the Chinese constellation, representing spring, the element of Wood and the east. Chinese dragons are often shown with large pearls in their grasp, though some say that it is really the dragon's egg. The Chinese believed that the dragons lived underwater most of the time, and would sometimes offer rice as a gift to the dragons. The dragons were not shown with wings like the European dragons because it was believed they could fly using magic.

A Yellow dragon (Huang long) with five claws on each foot, on the other hand, represents the change of seasons, the element of Earth (the Chinese 'fifth element') and the center. Furthermore, it symbolizes imperial authority in China, and indirectly the Chinese people as well. Chinese people often use the term "Descendants of the Dragon" as a sign of ethnic identity. The dragon is also the symbol of royalty in Bhutan (whose sovereign is known as Druk Gyalpo, or Dragon King).

In Vietnam, the dragon (Vietnamese: rồng) is the most important and sacred symbol. The dragon is strongly influenced by the Chinese dragon. According to the ancient creation myth of the Kinh people, all Vietnamese people are descended from dragons through Lạc Long Quân, who married Âu Cơ, a fairy. The eldest of their 100 sons founded the first dynasty of Hůng Vương Emperors.

Dragon waterspout on Ulm Cathedral

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Dragon waterspout on Ulm Cathedral

In the Philippines, the Bakonawa appears as a gigantic serpent that lives in the sea. Ancient natives believed that the Bakonawa caused the moon or the sun to disappear during an eclipse.

The Nāga - a minor deity taking the form of a serpent - is common within both the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Technically, the naga is not a dragon, though it is often taken as such; the term is ambiguous, and refers both to a tribe of people known as 'Nāgas', as well as to elephants and ordinary snakes. Within a mythological context, it refers to a deity assuming the form of a serpent with either one or many heads.

Occasionally the Buddha is depicted as sitting upon the coils of a serpent, with a fan of several serpent heads extending over his body. This is in reference to Mucalinda, a Nāga that protected Śākyamuni Buddha from the elements during the time of his enlightenment. Separated from the contextualising effect of the Buddha story, people may see only the head and thus infer that Mucalinda is a dragon, rather than a deity in serpentine form. Stairway railings on Buddhist temples will occasionally be worked to resemble the body of a Nāga with the head at the base of the railing. In Thailand, the head of Nāga, in a more impressionistic form, can be seen at the corners of temple roofs, with Nāga’s body forming the ornamentation on roofline eves up to the gables.

Speculation on the origins of dragons

It has been suggested that legends of dragons are based upon ordinary creatures coupled with common psychological tendencies amongst disparate groups of humans.

Some believe that the dragon may have had a real-life counterpart from which the various legends arose — typically dinosaurs or other archosaurs are mentioned as a possibility — but there is no physical evidence to support this claim, only alleged sightings collected by cryptozoologists. In a common variation of this hypothesis, giant lizards such as Megalania are substituted for the living dinosaurs. Some believe dragons are mental manifestations representing an assembly of inherent human fears of reptiles, teeth, claws, size and fire in combination. All of these hypotheses are widely considered to be pseudoscience.

Dinosaur and mammalian fossils were occasionally mistaken as the bones of dragons and other mythological creatures — a discovery in 300 BC in Wucheng, Sichuan, China, was labeled as such by Chang Qu. It is unlikely, however, that these finds alone prompted the legends of such monsters, but they may have served to reinforce them.

It has also been suggested by proponents of catastrophism that comets or meteor showers gave rise to legends about fiery serpents in the sky. In Old English, comets were sometimes called fyrene dracan or fiery dragons. Volcanic eruptions may have also been responsible for reinforcing the belief in dragons, although instances in Europe and Asian countries were rare.

Dragons in world mythology

Asian dragons
Indonesian dragon Naga or Nogo Naga is a mythical animal from Indonesian mythology, and the myth encompasses almost all of the islands of Indonesia, especially those who were influenced heavily by Hindu culture. Like its Indian counterpart, it is considered as divine in nature, benevolent, and often associated with sacred mountains, forests, or certain parts of the sea.

In some parts of Indonesia, Dragon or Naga is depicted as a gigantic serpent with a golden crown on its forehead, and there is a persistent belief among certain peoples that Nagas are still alive in uncharted mountains, lakes and active volcanoes. In Java and Bali, dragons represent goodness, and gods send dragons to the earth in order to maintain the force of good and gave people prosperity. Some natives claimed sightings of this fabled beast, and considered as a good omen if someone happen to glimpse one of these animals, but misfortune if the dragons talked to them.

Cambodian myth also involves nagas. Cambodian myth has it that the Cambodian nation began with offspring of a naga and royal human.

Chinese dragon Lóng (or Lung) The Chinese dragon, is a mythical Chinese creature that also appears in other East Asian cultures, and is also sometimes called the Oriental (or Eastern) dragon. Depicted as a long, snake-like creature with four claws, in contrast to the Western dragon which stands on two legs and which is usually portrayed as evil, it has long been a potent symbol of auspicious power in Chinese folklore and art. Lóng have a long, scaled serpentine form combined with the attributes of other animals; most (but not all) are wingless, and has four claws on each foot (five for the imperial emblem). They are rulers of the weather and water, and a symbol of power. They also carried their eggs which were thought to have been huge pearls in their hands.
Japanese dragon Ryū Similar to Chinese dragons, with three claws instead of four. They are benevolent (with exceptions), associated with water, and may grant wishes; rare in Japanese mythology.
Philippine Dragon Bakonawa The Bakonawa appears as a gigantic serpent that lives in the sea.

Ancient natives believed that the Bakonawa caused the moon or the sun to disappear during an eclipse.

It is said that during certain times of the year, the bakonawa arises from the ocean and proceeds to swallow the moon whole. To keep the Bakonawa from completely eating the moon, the natives would go out of their houses with pans and pots in hand and make a noise barrage in order to scare the Bakonawa into spitting out the moon back into the sky.

In popular Filipino folk literature, the Bakonawa is said to have a sister in the form of a sea turtle. The sea turtle would visit a certain island in the Philippines in order to lay its eggs. However, locals soon discovered that every time the sea turtle went to shore, the water seemed to follow her, thus reducing the island's size. Worried that their island would eventually disappear, the locals killed the sea turtle.

When the Bakonawa found out about this, it arose from the sea and ate the moon. The locals were so afraid that they prayed to Bathala to punish the Bakonawa. Bathala refused but instead, told them to bang some pots and pans in order to disturb the Bakonawa. The Bakonawa then regurgitated the moon and disappeared, never to be seen again.

The island where the sea turtle lays its eggs is said to exist until today. Some sources say that the island might just be one of the Turtle Islands.

Vietnamese dragon Rồng or Long These dragons' bodies curve lithely, in sine shape, with 12 sections, symbolising 12 months in the year. They are able to change the weather, and are responsible for crops. On the dragon's back are little, uninterrupted, regular fins. The head has a long mane, beard, prominent eyes, crest on nose, but no horns. The jaw is large and opened, with a long, thin tongue; they always keep a châu (gem/jewel) in their mouths (a symbol of humanity, nobility and knowledge).
Siberian dragon Yilbegan Related to European Turkic and Slavic dragons
Indian Dragon Vyalee and Naga There is some debate as to whether or not Vyalee is considered a dragon. It is found in temples and is correlated with the goddess Parvati. Naga is the main dragon of Indian and Hindu mythology. Nagas are a race of magical serpents that live below water. Their king wears a golden crown atop his head. The Nagas are associated with Buddha and mainly with Lord Vishnu and his incarnations (Dasavataras). When Krishna was a child, he wrestled with a Naga that was obstructing a lake.
European dragons
Sardinian dragon scultone The dragon named "scultone" or "ascultone" was a legend in Sardinia, Italy for many a millennium. It had the power to kill human beings with its gaze. It was a sort of basilisk, lived in the bush and was immortal.
Scandinavian & Germanic dragons lindworm Or the "Draco serpentalis" is a very large wingless serpent with two legs, the lindworm is really closer to a wyvern or to a knucker. They were believed to eat cattle and symbolized pestilence, but seeing one was considered good luck. The dragon Fafnir, killed by the legendary hero Sigurd, was called an ormr ('worm') in Old Norse and was in effect a giant snake; it neither flew nor breathed fire. The dragon killed by the Old English hero Beowulf, on the other hand, did fly and breathe fire and was actually a European dragon.

The red dragon of Wales, Y Ddraig Goch, on the Flag of Wales

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The red dragon of Wales, Y Ddraig Goch, on the Flag of Wales
Welsh dragon Y Ddraig Goch The red dragon is the traditional symbol of Wales and appears on the Welsh national flag.
Hungarian dragons (Sárkányok) zomok A great snake living in a swamp, which regularly kills pigs or sheep. A group of shepherds can easily kill them.
sárkánykígyó A giant winged snake, which in fact a full-grown zomok. It often serves as flying mount of the garabonciások (a kind of magician). The sárkánykígyó rules over storms and bad weather.
sárkány A dragon in human form. Most of them are giants with multiple heads. Their strength is held in their heads. They become gradually weaker as they lose their heads.
Slavic dragons zmey, zmiy, змей, or zmaj Similar to the conventional European dragon, but multi-headed. They breathe fire and/or leave fiery wakes as they fly. In Slavic and related tradition, dragons symbolize evil. Specific dragons are often given Turkic names (see Zilant, below), symbolizing the long-standing conflict between the Slavs and Turks.
Romanian dragons balaur Balaur are very similar to the Slavic zmey: very large, with fins and multiple heads.
Chuvash dragons Vere Celen Chuvash dragons represent the pre-Islamic mythology of the same region.
Asturian dragons Cuélebre In Asturian mythology the Cuélebres are giant winged serpents, which live in caves where they guard treasures and kidnapped xanas. They can live for centuries and, when they grow really old, they use their wings to fly. Their breath is poisonous and they often kill cattle to eat. Asturian term Cuelebre comes from Latin colŭbra, i.e. snake.
Tatar dragons Zilant Really closer to a wyvern, the Zilant is the symbol of Kazan. Zilant itself is a Russian rendering of Tatar yılan, i.e. snake.
Turkish dragons Ejderha or Evren This creature is strikingly different from its fire breathing, flying European counterpart. The Turkish Dragon secretes flames from its tail, and there is no mention in any legends of its having wings, or even legs. In fact, most Turkish (and later, Islamic) sources describe dragons as gigantic snakes. The blood of the Turkish Dragon has its medical properties, becoming a panacea if drawn from the head and a lethal poison if drawn from the tail.
Basque dragons Herensuge Basque for "dragon". One legend has St. Michael descending from Heaven to kill it, but only when God agreed to accompany him, so fearful it was.
Sugaar The male god of Basque mythology, also called Maju, was often associated to a serpent or snake, though he can adopt other forms.
American dragons
Meso-American dragon Amphitere Feathered serpent deity responsible for giving knowledge to mankind, and sometimes also a symbol of death and resurrection.
Inca dragon Amaru A dragon (sometimes called a snake) on the Inca culture. The last Inca emperor Tupak Amaru's name means "Lord Dragon"
Brazilian dragon Boi-tata A dragon-like animal (sometimes like a snake) of the Brazilian Indian cultures.
Chilean dragon Caicaivilu and Tentenvilu Snake-type dragons, Caicaivilu was the sea god and Tentenvilu was the earth god, both from the Chilean island Chiloé.
African dragons
African dragon Amphisbaena Possibly originating in northern Africa (and later moving to Greece), this was a two-headed dragon (one at the front, and one on the end of its tail). The front head would hold the tail (or neck as the case may be) in its mouth, creating a circle that allowed it to roll.
Dragon-like creatures
Basilisk A basilisk is hatched by a cockerel from a serpent's egg. It is a lizard-like or snake-like creature that can supposedly kill by its gaze, its voice, or by touching its victim.
Leviathan In Hebrew mythology, a leviathan was a large creature with fierce teeth. Contemporary translations identify the leviathan with the crocodile, but maintaining a strict Biblical perspective the leviathan can breathe fire (Job 41:18-21), can fly (Job 41:5), it cannot be pierced with spears or harpoons (Job 41:7), its scales are so closely fit that there is no room between them (Job 41:15-16), it walks upright (Job 41:12), its mouth is powerful and contains many formidable teeth (Job 41:14), its underbelly has sharp scales that could cut a person (Job 41:30), and, over all, it is a terrifying creature. Over time, the term came to mean any large sea monster; in modern Hebrew, "leviathan" simply means whale. A sea serpent is also closely related to the dragon, though it is more snakelike and lives in the water.
Wyvern Much more similar to a dragon than the other creatures listed here, a wyvern is a winged serpent with either two or no legs. The term wyvern is used in heraldry to distinguish two-legged from four-legged dragons. Also sometimes noted as the largest species of dragon.
zmeu Derived from the Slavic dragon, zmeu are humanoid figures that can fly and breathe fire.
cockatrice A bird-like reptile sometimes confused with a basilisk. In Gerald Durrell's book "The Talking Parcel", they attempt genocide against dragons by stealing the last dragon eggs
Quetzalcóatl A Central-American or Mexican creature with both scales and feathers worshipped by the Toltecs and Aztecs.

Dragon from Ljubljana, Slovenia

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Dragon from Ljubljana, Slovenia

Notable dragons

In myth

Azhi Dahaka was a three-headed demon often characterized as dragon-like in Persian Zoroastrian mythology.

Similarly, Ugaritic myth describes a seven-headed sea serpent named Lotan.

The Hydra of Greek mythology is a water serpent with multiple heads with mystic powers. When one was chopped off, two would regrow in its place. This creature was vanquished by Heracles and his cousin.

Smok Wawelski was a Polish dragon who was supposed to have terrorized the hills around Kraków in the Middle Ages.

Y Ddraig Goch is now the symbol of Wales (see flag, above, originally appearing as the red dragon from the Mabinogion story Lludd and Llevelys.

Nidhogg, a dragon in Norse mythology, was said to live in the darkest part of the Underworld, awaiting Ragnarok. At that time he would be released to wreak destruction on the world.

Orochi, the eight-headed serpent slain by Susanoo in Japanese mythology

A naga dragon guarding the Temple of Wat Sisaket in Viang Chan, Laos

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A naga dragon guarding the Temple of Wat Sisaket in Viang Chan, Laos

In literature and fiction

The Old English epic Beowulf ends with the hero battling a dragon.

Dragons remain fixtures in fantasy books, though portrayals of their nature differ. For example, Smaug, from The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, who is a classic, European-type dragon; deeply magical, he hoards treasure and burns innocent towns. Contrary to most old folklore and literature J. R. R. Tolkien's dragons are very intelligent and can cast spells over mortals.

A common theme in literature concerning dragons is the partnership between humans and dragons. This is evident in Dragon Rider and the Inheritance Trilogy. Most notably it is featured in Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series.

Dragons have been portrayed in several movies of the past few decades, and in many different forms. In Dragonslayer (1981), a "sword and sorcerer"-type film set in medieval Britain, a dragon terrorizes a town's population. In contrast, Dragonheart (1996), though also given a medieval context, was a much lighter action/adventure movie that spoofed the "terrorizing dragon" stereotype, and depicts dragons as usually good beings, who in fact often save the lives of humans. Dragons can also be passionate protectors, just like the dragon in Shrek and Shrek 2, who displays her affection for a donkey. Reign of Fire (2002), also dark and gritty, dealt with the consequences of dormant dragons reawakened in the modern world.

Dragon carving on Hopperstad stave church, Norway

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Dragon carving on Hopperstad stave church, Norway

Dragons are common (especially as non-player characters) in Dungeons & Dragons and in some computer fantasy role-playing games. They, like many other dragons in modern culture, run the full range of good, evil, and everything in between. See Dragon (Dungeons & Dragons) for additional information.

On the lighter side, Puff the Magic Dragon was first a poem, later a song made famous by Peter, Paul and Mary, that has become a pop-culture mainstay.

As emblems

The dragon is the emblem of Ljubljana, Slovenia. The city has a dragon bridge which is embellished with four dragon depictions. The city's basketball club is nicknamed the "Green Dragons". License plates on cars from the city also feature a dragon depiction.

Y Ddraig Goch (IPA: [ə đraig gox]) (Welsh for the red dragon) appears on the national Flag of Wales (the flag itself is also called the "Draig Goch"), and is the most famous dragon in Britain. There are many legends about y Ddraig Goch.

The dragon is also in the emblem of FC Porto, a sports club from Portugal, which is nicknamed "Dragőes" (Dragons). Their football stadium is also nicknamed "Estádio do Dragăo" (Dragon Stadium) and has a large bronze Dragon logo at the entrance.

Dragon slaying

Slayer Dragon Method/weapon Origin
Mythology
Saint George unnamed dragon lance (or sword) named Ascalon Christianity
Heracles Lernaean Hydra, Ladon Hydra (assisted by his nephew Iolaus): flaming arrows, harvesting sickle, firebrand to scorch the neck stumps. Greek
Apollo Python arrows Greek
Beowulf (assisted by Wiglaf) unnamed dragon sword and shield Old English
Sigurd Fafnir sword named Gram Norse
Dobrynya Nikitich Zmey Gorynych a lance (at least in the illustration by Ivan Bilibin) Russian
Susanoo Yamata no Orochi cutting it into pieces with his sword Japanese
John Lambton the Lambton Worm spearhead-studded armor English
the Prince unnamed dragon wrestling, throwing the dragon into the air, greyhounds, a hawk Serbian fairy tale The Dragon and the Prince
Fantasy literature
Bard the Bowman Smaug the Black Arrow J. R. R. Tolkien
Túrin Turambar Glaurung his Black Sword J. R. R. Tolkien
Éowyn the dragon-like fell beast sword and shield J. R. R. Tolkien

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Carved imperial dragon in Beijing, China

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Carved imperial dragon in Beijing

 

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