Dragons as Mythical Creatures in Art

Dragons as Mythical Creatures in Art
Originating in Egypt, depicted in the Medieval period, described in the Bible; and brought to life by today’s technology, I'll discuss how various cultures have adopted this fire-breathing reptile.

In the Egyptian "Book of the Dead" (1550 BC), dragons were related to the god Atum who rose from Nun (chaotic primeval waters).

The Greek word for 'tail devourer' is ouroborus, one of the oldest mythical symbols in the world. It depicts a dragon eating its own tail in order to sustain life (becoming the shape of a circle) in a cycle of renewal and purification - eternity.

In the “Book of Revelation" the final book of the New Testament and Christian Bible (1st c AD) it reads: Revelation 12: 3-4 “Then another sign (or symbol) became visible in the sky, and I saw that it was a huge red dragon (representing the primeval Serpent, the devil or Satan)."

Italian Renaissance artist Paolo di Dono, AKA Uccello, painted "Saint George and The Dragon" (1460), a glorious representation of the reptile with only two limbs. Having terrorized the city, the dragon is wounded by Saint George with his lance. The princess uses her belt as a leash, leading the creature back to the city where he was subsequently slain.

This story is taken from "The Golden Legend," a popular 13thc collection of saints' biographies by Jacobus de Voragine.

During the Middle Ages (476 AD – 1492), stories of King Arthur (legend or lore) and his Round Table Fellowship of Knights, based in Camelot, were told in hundreds of manuscripts between the 11th c - 15thc.

Merlin, King Arthur’s magician, (truth be told) made the Round Table in the likeness of the world. One hundred and fifty (150) knights allegedly sat at this table, plotting how they would rid the land of monsters and dragons.

In Biblical times (550 BC), Asia Minor (then part of the Persian Empire, now modern-day Turkey), depicted the dragon as possessing evil, supernatural forces.

Japanese and Chinese symbols and meaning for the dragon are similar.

The Japanese believe dragons to be generous do-gooders, possessing wisdom. The Japanese dragon has three (3) toes (claws).

The common Chinese dragon has four (4) toes, where the royal Chinese dragon has five (5).

In the Hindu religion, the dragon circles the tortoise, supporting the four (4) elephants carrying the world. (No small feat.)

In the West, dragons symbolize strength, ferocity, and wealth. They are also considered guardians - thus the popularity of tattoos in their image.

Today, dragons are associated with Gnosticism - ancient religious ideas in the 1st and 2nd c AD in the Hellenistic Judaism and pre-Christian eras, and Hermeticism (also Hermetism) beliefs during the Renaissance and Reformation, based on writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus.

Fast forward to modern day storytelling, the hugely successful HBO series "Game of Thrones" (2011-2019) where actor Emilia Clarke plays Queen Daenerys Targaryen, 'The Mother of Dragons.' As fate would have it (if you recall, she was also 'The Breaker of Chains') she helped hatch three (3) dragon eggs.

At last, an extraordinary visual of these mythical creatures, brought to life.

You can purchase Poster Art of Uccello's "Saint George and the Dragon" (24X32 inches), available here from Amazon.com.

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This content was written by Camille Gizzarelli. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Camille Gizzarelli for details.