Looking through some stitching catalogues recently, I came across a wealth of fantasy dragon designs. There was a great deal of choice of creatures and designs, and they all looked attractive and impressive.
I decided to find out more about these amazing beasts before making my choice of chart to buy. In doing so, I entered an unexpected but very interesting world of myth and magic.
We all can recognise dragons, but what exactly are they? What are their distinguishing features? And why are they often considered to be bad but powerful? It appears that dragon stories and myths have existed for thousands of years. Even so, they have a timeless quality.
Dragons are apparently hatched from eggs and have scaly, long bodies, big eyes, bat-like wings and a serpent's tail. They do not eat much, but when they do, they consume an ox, sheep or preferably a human.
They can be many different colors and some have the ability to change their colors at will, like a chameleon. They typically have lion's claws, and they are able to exhale fire.
There are many different types of dragon, but the Western dragon occurs most frequently in literature. This includes St George and the Dragon, Beowulf and the Dragon and Draco, in the film, 'Braveheart'.
More currently, in the J K Rowling book, 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire', Harry and other young wizards are set to tackle three such creatures who are jealously guarding golden eggs. The evil character of this book is called Draco Malfoy, 'draco' meaning 'dragon' in Latin.
Some other stories have the Devil in Christianity depicted as a dragon. Legends also suggest that eating a dragon's heart will give you the power to understand birds, and consuming its tongue helps you to win arguments. Furthermore, you will surely be protected against stab wounds if you rub dragon's blood on your skin.
The European and ancient Persian dragons are considered to be evil beasts in mythology. In contrast, other cultures have perceived them differently (and it is this that interests me when I come to choose my cross stitch design).
Dragons are considered to have powerful spiritual significance in certain religions and cultures worldwide. For example, in Native American and Eastern cultures, dragons continue to be worshipped as being symbolic of the primal forces of the universe and nature.
They are wiser than humans and live very long lives. Dragons are often thought to have magical powers, being mythical rules of the weather, especially related to rivers, wells and rain. It has been written that some of the worst floods in Asian history were the result of a person upsetting a dragon.
In some cultures, especially Chinese, or near to the Himalayas, dragons represent good luck. A yellow dragon with five claws on each foot indicates imperial authority in China. Eastern dragons are portrayed as kind, good natured and very wise.
You can occasionally discover references to a 'Faerie Dragon'. This is very small creature, only measuring between one and five feet long. It has wings like butterflies, and it is a vegetarian. Its role is to carry faeries from place to place.
Another dragon is a 'Hydra'. This is a dragon that has many necks and heads. You may read in Greek mythology that Hercules fought an eight-headed hydra. Every time he cut off a head, two more would appear in its place. Eventually he found out that by burning the stump with a flaming torch, it could not grow a new head.
Another way we are likely to meet dragons is in fantasy literature and role-playing games, for example 'Dungeons and Dragons'. In this context, they have been symbols of leadership, strength and independence.
The slaying of a dragon means getting the hoard of treasure that it is guarding, plus the knowledge that the killer has outwitted the most cunning of creatures.
So, if you are wondering if you should stitch a fantasy dragon, then I suggest you visit the websites below. If you are not a fan of myth and fantasy, you may well be won over with the beautiful designs on these sites.
They are characterised by beautiful colors, and detailed imagery. Remember that essentially, your dragon can be whatever you wish it to be.
About the Author:
John Wigham has been a professional author and editor for 20 years and is a co-founder of Patterns Patch
an online cross stitch club dedicated to counted cross stitch. The website has a small team of writers who are devoted to our cross stitch club
and enjoy writing about their hobby.