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All About Dragons by HalloweenCostumes.com

By: Molly Schwichtenberg

A dragon is a large mythical creature that appears in tales and myths in many cultures around the world. The creature is usually depicted as having a thick and long body, four strong legs, scaly skin, huge bat-like wings and wedge-shaped heads. Dragons are portrayed as venomous, fire-breathing giants that have something magical about them. There are different sources of inspiration for dragon myths. While some base folklore on the discovery of large fossils, others were inspired by human's innate fear of mysterious creatures. In some cultures, it is believed that the myth of dragons came from the depiction of the mouth of hell in the medieval times, with the fire-breathing element of the creatures signifying the flames and smoke associated with hell.

Brief History of Dragons

  • Since dragons generally appear in folklore, their history has never been an easy subject. As much as they feature in earliest recorded history, nobody gave much thought to where dragons came from.
  • In Indian and Chinese legends, the existence of dragons dates as far back as 2700 B.C.
  • Fossils discovered many years before the beginning of paleontology were believed to come from dragons.
  • The discovery of Dracorex hogwartsia, a dragon-like dinosaur, lends credence to the idea that legends about dragons were based on dinosaurs and their fossils.

Dragons Across Cultures

  • Many cultures around the world have myths about dragons. This includes communities in China, Europe, Egypt and Middle East.
  • The Chinese hold dragons in high regard, with one common Chinese story telling of a boy who turned into a dragon after swallowing a pearl.
  • German myth includes a story of a young prince turned into a dragon after killing his father for his throne and fame.
  • While dragons in the West are depicted as fire-breathing, those in Chinese folklore are sometimes portrayed as creatures that bring wealth.
  • Authors have to choose which type of dragon to focus on when writing about the creatures. Both Eastern and Western dragons make for great Halloween costumes.

Dragon Types

  • Different types of dragons can sometimes be identified by where they live.
  • Images of dragons can be flying or fire-breathing, large or small, pests or allies or demonic monsters.
  • Types of dragons are sometimes defined based on their appearance. For instance, a drake is small and four-legged, while a wyvern is two-legged and has talons.
  • Dragons can be symbols of good fortune or chaotic forces.

What Does a Dragon Look Like?

  • The concept of a dragon has been shared by many cultures, but each has developed its own image of what they look like.
  • While pop culture often shows us giant creatures with slit-pupiled eyes, if a dragon really existed, it would probably look much different.
  • Our images of dragons may have evolved from primal fears of threats like snakes, large cats, and predatory birds.

Dragon Legends

  • Dragons have been the subject of numerous legends around the world.
  • Legends of dragons come from nearly every continent, and these creatures are even mentioned in the Bible.
  • Research has shown that there are more than 400 dragon myths from different cultures.

Famous Dragons

  • Japan's oldest book contains records of Yamata no Orochi, a huge dragon that had eight heads, a belly covered in blood, and trees growing on its back.
  • Yinglong was a golden Chinese dragon that was commonly referred to as the rain god in Chinese folklore.
  • In ancient Mesopotamia, Sumeria, and Babylon, there was a dragon named Zu. The large creature stole the Tablet of Law and had issued threats of unleashing chaos in the world.
  • While many rumors have circulated about Puff the Magic Dragon, the song's writers insist that it was based on a poem about a dragon.

Miscellaneous Dragon Resources