The dragranites have hatched! Glittery granite baby dragons are the latest members of the MadebymeCLAY family but what is it about these mythical beasties that sets our hearts aflame?
“What’s life without a few dragons?” -Ron Weasley
Dragons are, undoubtedly, among the most popular and enduring of the world’s mythological creatures. But where does our fondness for these dangerous beasts originate? What is it that fascinates us about the leathery lizard-like creatures?
Fiery winged beasts are abundant in current literature and film; everything from Tolkien’s The Hobbit, to Cressida Cowell’s How to Train your Dragon books, Netflix’s series and films. J.K Rolling’s Harry Potter gives us the Norwegian Ridgeback amongst others. And then, there are those three glorious beasts mothered by Daenerys Targaryen.
These huge, flying serpents are described at least as early as the age of the ancient Greeks and Sumerians. They were often seen as protective, not always simply a monster to be feared.
For me, the start of my love affair with dragons is summed up in one word, Falkor. The luck dragon in The Never Ending Story was a pink, fluffy dog-like dragon that could fly on and terrorise those who bullied you. Sign me up! (It’s small surprise some 30 years later I got myself a breed of dog that looks suspiciously like a brown Falkor).
So it was that protective element, coupled with the protective fierceness and ability to fly that first drew me in. But they’re a theme I come back to again and again, drawn by the magic, the mystery and the magnificence of the dragon.
A few years ago Jacob and I were lucky enough to meet Cressida Cowell at Cheltenham Literature Festival. Spending countless summers on a remote uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland, imagination became salvation. For her, it was entirely possible that dragons might live in this wild, stormy, place and aged only eight years old, she began to write stories about Vikings and dragons:
“Dragons represent what we don’t know. We think we know everything and we are in charge of nature – there are a lot of myths about dragon riding and taming nature – but perhaps we are wrong, perhaps there are dragons. Perhaps the myths are there for a reason. We think we have explored everything, done everything but we have never been down to the bottom of the sea, to the trenches there. There’s a tantalising possibility that we don’t know everything and people are drawn to it, they want it”.
And she was absolutely spot on.
Jacob came home from school that same year, aged 7, having been reprimanded for believing in Dragons. “Dinosaurs are real, dragons are not” his teacher explained. Now, first things first, dinosaurs were real; its not like they are queuing up with us at the petting zoo (for them more of a local cafe I would guess). To a child why is one thing they cannot see more believable then the next? And second, yes, I of course explained the difference between myth and fact. But I encourage him to question and believe what he choses to. So, well-versed in the classics, I reached for my copy of the Water Babies to make him feel better. In the words of Charles Kingsley:
“Did not learned men, too, hold, till within the last 25 years, that a flying dragon was an impossible monster? And do we now know that there are hundreds of them found fossil up and down the world? People call them Pterodactyles: but that is only because they are ashamed to call them flying dragons, after denying so long that flying dragons could exist.”
Here be dragons. Long may they reign.
Who would win between Drogon and Smaug? See what George R. Martin thinks here: