A Rainbow of Dragons!Aug 05 2020
Dragons have flown into Recolor with our Dragon Event, so it’s a great time to talk about dragon colors!
Dragons have very different mythologies in different parts of the world, and their colors mean different things in different places. It’s important to remember that, as a general rule, Western dragons (four legs + wings) are considered monsters, but East Asian dragons (four legs, antlers + mane, no wings,) are very revered creatures, believed to bring good luck and blessings.
In European legends, black dragons were the worst of the worst! Because black symbolized evil, a black dragon was extra scary. This is actually not so far off from black dragons in China, where they represent vengeance. Seeing one was thought to be a sign of catastrophe - storms and floods were sure to follow.
It was actually very unusual to see green dragons in old European artwork; the exception seems to be the dragon slain by Saint George, which is consistently shown as being green. Scholars think this might be because green symbolized the wilderness, so Saint George killing a green dragon represented humanity’s mastering the wild. But in China, the green dragon is the symbol of the East direction on the compass, and he brought the good rains that nurtured the crops - a very positive association with nature!
Red and White
The Welsh flag features a red dragon, and there’s actually a story behind that - a legend in which a red dragon and a white one were battling each other. The red dragon represented Wales, and the white dragon was England. The red dragon won and drove off the white dragon, which, in the 5th century, symbolized how the people of Wales resisted the invasion of the Saxons, becoming their own people and their own country. The red dragon became the symbol of Wales; you can see it on all kinds of Welsh crests and institutions!
In Japan and China, red and white dragons have symbolism that isn’t completely different from the Welsh: red dragons are bringers of good luck, and white dragons are omens of death. So just like in Wales, people revere red dragons and avoid white ones!
If we step outside of Europe and East Asia, we find something very rare and special - rainbow dragons! Many of the myths of the different Aboriginal peoples of Australia tell of the Rainbow Serpent, an enormous, rainbow-colored snake whose movements helped shape the landscape of Australia when it was created. It is associated with rebirth and rain, and when it was seen flying through the sky, it was believed it was travelling from one source of water to the next - explaining why some water holes never dried up.
In South America, the Aztecs believed the rainbow was the god Quetzalcoatl - who sometimes took the form of an enormous feathered serpent/dragon - flying through the sky. Like the Australian Rainbow Serpent, he was a creator god; also like the Rainbow Serpent, Quetzalcoatl was associated with the rain! Isn’t that interesting?
We hope this gives you plenty to think about while you work on your dragons - you’ve got until next Monday to publish your entries for the Event! Use the galaxy palette in your dragon picture for the possibility of being featured in the app!