Dragons – the mythical ancestors of Slavs

Some people believe they could trace their ancestry to Charlemagne; some used to believe they were descendants of dragons. South Slavic heroes, great warriors and sometimes noblemen were thought to be of dragon blood.

Dragon (“zmay”) in South Slavic mythology was one of the so-called “air demons” and was responsible for bringing rain when rain was needed. A dragon was both a human and an animal, a shape-shifter, in fact. It could be either male or – less frequently – female. They appeared in their human form when among humans.  Snakes (“zmiya” – the phonological resemblance is obvious), rams or carps would transform into dragons when they turned 100 years old.

They breathed red or blue fire,  and lived in forests, the magical places of Slavic mythology, often in hollow beeches. (Oak, beech, linden, elm, pine were trees with magic, or sometimes demonic properties.) Physically, they weren’t unlike Daenerys Targaryen’s Drogon, Viserion and Rhaegal, only a trifle smaller. I like to think they were (or still are) cousins. I’m sure Slavic Dragons would recognize this music.

In the picture below is their Asian cousin. The guy in the second photo either has some identity issues, or he truly believes that success starts with attitude.

Photo by Sarah Phillips on Unsplash

A dragon could speak parseltongue and could become invisible, expect for a woman he fell in love with. Romantic, isn’t it? Their sexual potency was legendary (or, of mythological proportions). After having a relationship with a dragon-man, a woman would lose any interest in human men. No wonder.

Children from such unions were always male, very strong and wise. Thanks to that — which tribe or nation didn’t need heroes, warriors and noblemen? — the relationships between humans and dragons were not considered sinful, a quite progressive view for those ancient times.

Photo by Wim van ‘t Einde on Unsplash

There were numerous toponyms in South Slavic countries related to dragons, as well as surnames with their roots in the word “zmay”.

Do you remember my blog about vilas, the beautiful forest creatures with long hair and slender bodies, who liked to dance and swim naked? Wouldn’t it be lovely to write a love story between a vila and a dragon?

About jfkaufmann

Not unlike my characters, I lead a double life: by day I'm a mother, a friend, a colleague, and the queen of my kitchen. When the moon rises, however, I shift into my other self and, as Queen of the Night, I reign the magical world of my imagination.
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2 Responses to Dragons – the mythical ancestors of Slavs

  1. JP McLean says:

    Who doesn’t love a dragon? The one depicted in Game of Thrones was/is epic!


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