10 incredible ‘dragons’ from cultures across the world

Quetzalcoatl

Among all legendary creatures, the dragons (derived from Greek δράκων or ‘drákōn’) have taken their unique place among the pedestals of mythological accounts as well as present-day popular culture. And quite interestingly, dragons (or at least dragon-like entities) have been symbolic fixtures from a myriad of regions around the world. Of course, many of such mythic traditions have developed and evolved distinctly without much influence from one another, and yet the monsters have commonly played their major parts as gods, demons and even nationalistic personifications. So, without further ado, let us take a gander at ten incredible dragon depictions from cultures across the planet that you might not have known about.

1) Abrasax (from Persia) –

Abrasax

Abrasax (or Abraxas) is a well known term in Gnostic traditions, where the entity is considered as the great ‘Archon’ or God. This makes etymological sense, since Abrasax in Greek translates to ‘supreme being’, with the seven letters denoting the seven primary planets. Even the Greek letters of the word add up to 365, which pertains to the number of days in a year. However, beyond Gnostic traditions, the Abrasax might very well have had its origin in Persian myths. According to numerous sources, the entity was often perceived as a demon (as opposed to a god), and it was described physically as a hybrid between a dragon and serpent, with a rooster’s head! Also, in an interesting note, it has been suggested that the whimsical word Abracadabra is derived from Abrasax.

2) Akhekh (from Egypt) –

Akhekhu

Also known as Akhekhu, the Akhekh is characterized as a fantastical beast with a long serpentine body that is supported by its four legs. The creature was said to reside in remote corners of the Egyptian lands, mainly around the fringe desert areas beside the fertile Nile valley. And interestingly enough, the tales of the Akhekh drake might have inspired the legends of the griffins in Europe. This gradual evolution of folkloric traditions can be substantiated by the later depictions of the Akhekh – in which the creatures maintains its serpentine profile with the Egyptian headgear (Uraei), albeit with an antelope’s body and a bird’s head.

3) Drakon Kholkikos (from Kolkhis or Georgia) –

Drakon Kholkikos

If the legend of the ‘Jason and the Argonauts’ was an adventure game, the Drakon Kholkikos (or simply Colchian Dragon) would have been the main boss who guarded the Golden Fleece – that was located in the sacred grove of Ares at Kolkhis (present-day central Georgia). Described as having a crest, three tongues and a magical set of teeth, there are different versions as to how the dragon met its untimely death – with some concluding with the ubiquitous scenario of the hero slaying the dragon, and some alluding to a situation where the witch Medea puts the dragon to sleep with her magic. There is also a third version where the great singer Orpheus lures the dragon with an enchanting musical rendition on his lyre.

4) Druk (from Bhutan) –

Druk

Druk or the ‘Thunder Dragon’ is the national personification of Bhutanese culture, mythology and monarchy. To that end, the elaborately scaled drake is prominently featured in Bhutan’s national flag and national anthem (Druk tsendhen), while the Himalaya-nestled nation itself is called as ‘Druk Yul‘ (in Dzongkha), which translates to the ‘Land of Druk’. The dragon-inspired scope also extends to personal titles with the leaders of Bhutan being addressed as Druk Gyalpo or ‘Thunder Dragon Kings’. And, if you thought that was stretching things a bit – well, even all the political parties were named as ‘Druk Party’, for a mock election that was held in 2008.

5) Fafnir (from Scandinavia) –

Sigurd_and_Fafnir

Probably the most famous of all the dragons mentioned in this list, Fafnir (according to various sagas) oddly enough started out his life as a mere dwarf. He was the son of the Dwarf king Hreidmar, and was responsible for killing his own father to get hold of all the wealth and treasure that was originally stolen from the æsir gods. However, after he had taken the valuables out of sheer greed, he was cursed by Andvari’s ring and gold among the loot (it was a trick played by Loki). This transformed him into a mighty dragon with armored scales that couldn’t be penetrated by ordinary weapons (Smaug anyone?). Finally, it was Sigurd who slew him with his broken-sword, Gram, by finding a weak point along the soft underbelly of the gigantic beast.

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