myths, dragons are generally dangerous carnivorous reptiles, and can be categorized by their appearance or habitat. Categories by appearance covered the various combinations of legs and
- Guivre (no legs or wings, just a large serpent
with a dragon head.)
- Lindworm (one pair of legs
and no wings.)
- Wyvern (one pair of legs,
- Amphiptere (No legs, but
- Heraldic Dragon (two pairs of legs and wings.)
as seen above.
Rivers, Lakes, and Ocean
are also reptilian, often combined with parts of other animals.
They symbolize power and are generally considered good fortune.
These dragons can be grouped by function:
Celestial- Guardians of the houses of the gods-these dragons
were the only ones with 5 claws.
Divine- controlled the wind and rain.
Terrestrial- River dragons- controlled the flow and course of
Subterranean- Keepers of treasure-generally seen holding a pearl.
The Chinese had other systems to determine the dragons
strength- color and age. Red or black dragons were ferocious, but
not as powerful as yellow ones. Some believed that dragons
came thousand-year-old snake eggs (dinosaur eggs?) or that water
snakes became dragons after 500 years. After a thousand years, the dragon
would grow four feet and a beard. After another 500 years, the dragon
would grow horns, and after three thousand years the fully-mature dragon
would get its wings. Dragons can be seen in the shapes of clouds.
Japanese and Korean Dragons are much like the
Chinese. Chinese ones will normally have 4 or 5 toes, while
Japanese ones normally have 3 toes.
Many other cultures have legends of dragons. For
example, the Sumerians spoke of Tiamat, which was a huge female
dragon with two legs and horns. Native American Seneca myth
tells of Gaasyendietha, a dragon that lives in the water but
can shoot fire.