Dragons in Art and History


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Dragons, as they appear in artwork and legends throughout human history. Music is from The Legend of Spyro Trilogy. No narration.

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Dragons in Art and History

  1. 1. DragonsKeygan Sands
  2. 2. Bridging Cultural Gaps forThousands of Years… Originally used assymbols or to tellstories Present in culturesworldwide Blended along withsubsequent cultures Now used for many ofthe same reasons, butalso as decoration/forfun
  3. 3. They’re Everywhere! Today, dragons are recognized worldwide Present in many forms of art Contributions from every culture How did every culture arrive at the same visualsymbol?
  4. 4. North American Dragons(Structure/Story) The Piasa (with a few primitive serpentine draconic beasts) As large as a calf, antlers, red eyes, a beard, a flatface, scales, a long tail with an end like a fish’s, wings, andeither green, red, or black Associated with water Legends in the Illini Tribe
  5. 5. North American Dragons(History) Ancient petroglyphs carved on a cliff in Alton, Illinois Described by Father Jacques Marquette in 1673 Around 1856, quarry work caused the cliff to collapseinto the Mississippi Other drawings done based on description
  6. 6. Mesoamerican Dragons(Structure) The “feathered serpent” Depicted as a feathered snake with manydraconic features Painting but mostly in stone carving andsculpture
  7. 7. Mesoamerican Dragons (History)•Serpents first appear in Olmec•Used to represent sky for Mayans1400-400 BC•Earliest depiction of deity•Olmec900 BC•Earliest worship of specific deity in Teotihuacan•Afterwards, spreads to many cultures400 BC-600 AD•Named Quetzalcoatl by Aztecs•Centered in Cholula900-1519 AD•Appear in Tula, capital of Toltecs950-1150 AD
  8. 8. Mesoamerican Dragons (Story) Quetzalcoatl to Aztecs, Kukulcan toMayans A much-loved god in all cultures
  9. 9. Australian Dragons (Structure) The Rainbow Serpent A serpent with a draconic head, verylarge Depicted in cave paintings The Bunyip An aquatic, reptilian beast, flightless
  10. 10. Australian Dragons(Story/Symbolism) Known asAlmudj, Ngalyod, Bolung, etc… Important creationsymbol Called the “boss lady”in human form Generallyfemale, associatedwith water
  11. 11. Chinese/Asian Dragons(Structure) Combination of animalsincludingpig, deer, bear, camel, tiger, and eagle Five toes in China, fourin Korea, three in Japan T’ien lung, shen lung, tilung, fu-ts’ang lung, etc
  12. 12. Chinese/Asian Dragons (History) From character “lung” from oracle bones of Shang andI’Ching Originated in Liaohe River Valley of northeast Chinaduring Shang Dynasty (1600-1100 BC) Early dragons in eight art forms: Stoneplacement, woodcarving, engraving, pottery, clay/jadesculpture, color painting
  13. 13. Middle-eastern Dragons Persia Can be evil/slain byheroes Guard treasure Islamic Astronomical figures Jawzahr, Draco, Serpentarius Babylon (2000-39 BC) Dragon goddess Tiamat Mushussu seen asguardians Less serpentine, moremammalian In glazed brick on theIshtar Gate
  14. 14. African Dragons The Congo mokele-mbembe Egypt Laculi, Apophis, Aker, Denwen (3000BC) Serpentine, manywith wings
  15. 15. European Dragons-Greek/Roman Serpentine drakkon Ladon and the GoldenApples of Hesperides Colchis and the GoldenFleece Hercules and the hydra
  16. 16. European Dragons-Celtic/Nordic Many legends (Sigurd and Fafnir, the red and whitedragon, the Midgard Serpent) Heraldic symbols and painting
  17. 17. European Dragons-Christian Influence Seen as evil, symbols of sin and the devil Legends involve slaying dragons/saving maidens (St.George, the Tarasque, La Vibria, etc) Mainly heraldic symbols remain at first, used as code inalchemical works
  18. 18. The Spread of Dragons After the Renaissance, paintings of Christian dragon legends Emphasis on the Saint or Hero Painters like Titian, Tintoretto, and van Haarlem helped spreadEuropean version Main visual representation through the Renaissance to the 1800s 1807, red dragon adopted as King’s Badge for Wales (and on theWelsh flag)
  19. 19. Modernization As cultures connected, different dragon imagescombined and blended Popularization of image through fantasy work Predominately European versions
  20. 20. Dragons Today Hugely popularworldwide Primarily Westernversions, modernversions of othertypes Mostly for fun or totell stories/illustratescenes of stories Most oldmediums, some new(digital art)
  21. 21. Still used to tell stories, but witha modern view…
  22. 22. SourcesShuker, Dr. Karl. Dragons: A Natural History. Barnes & Noble, Inc., with Marshall Editions, London; 2003.http://www.china.org.cn/english/2004/Feb/88617.htm “Liaohe River Valley: Cradle of Chinese DragonCulture”http://www.squidoo.com/rainbowserpent “An Important Dragon of Creation Mythology”http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/kakadu/visitor-activities/rock-art-ubirr.html “The Rainbow Serpent”http://www.crystalinks.com/quetzalcoatl.html “Quetzalcoatl”http://www.theserenedragon.net/Tales/Egypt.html “Egypt”http://www.theserenedragon.net/Tales/Egypt-Winged.html “Winged Serpent / Laculi / Javalin snakes / Iaculi”http://www.neara.org/ROS/dragon.htm “The Origin of Dragon Legends”http://www.isidore-of-seville.com/dragons/16.html “Dragon Pictures, Ancient and Medieval”http://www.isidore-of-seville.com/dragons/17.html “Dragon Pictures, Renaissance to 18th Century”http://www.isidore-of-seville.com/dragons/18.html “Dragon Pictures, 19th Century”http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/mythiccreatures/dragons/european.php “European Dragons”http://serpentrace.blogspot.com/2009/02/dragon-as-archetype.html “The Dragon as an Archetype”