Zmaj Dragon Lore In Slavic Mythology

The dragon is one of the most famous mythological creatures in any ancient mythology or folk legends, so today most countries have dragons in their lore and mythologies. On example Asian countries have dragons even in their horoscope and for them they are seen as a symbol of strengths, fortune and great power. They are seen as benevolent creatures that rule with their power of water, flood and rains. However among Western Europe they are seen in contrary as a malevolent creatures that embody the evil in it’s true sense. One of the most famous European art is St.George slaying a dragon. However one to many uknown dragon is zmaj which can be found in Slavic folklore and mythology. In Slavic mythology and Slavic culture dragon can be seen as both good or bad, because he usually embodies Slavic God Veles which was a God of underworld, evil but also vegetation and fertility. Veles God is the main rival to Slavic God Perun, (same as similar conflict in indo-European Norse pantheon of Thor vs Loki). Thus St.George statues in Slavic countries have a meaning of Perun stabbing Veles that is in the form of a serpent. In Bulgaria male dragons were believed to protect crops (again due to connection to Slavic God Veles, the god of vegetation), while female dragons were destroying the work of men. In Russia there is a famous folk story of Zmey Gorynych, a dangerous beast with three heads that spit fire and he is rivaled by Russia folk heroes. So just as in any other country, in Slavic ones, dragons have also an important role and place in myths and legends as they don’t only reflect evil but embodies even some gods as Veles, meaning old Slavs seen dragons more as a power of nature that can be both good and bad.

Tourist attractions are now incorporating ‘dragon lore’ statue in Slovenia
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An illustration of a zmaj with a ram’s head and serpent body, from Milenko Bodirogić’s “Fairies and Dragons – Serbian Mythology”. Photo source:

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Famous Russian ‘Zmey Gorynych’ by Viktor Vasnetsov (Wikimedia Commons)

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Statue of Sveti Juraj (Slavic God Yarilo) vs Dragon (Slavic God Veles) in Croatia

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What do you think?

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