I am fascinated when people incorporate legends and mythology into culture. I know it happens all the time and the myth becomes “normal” and is accepted without further contemplation of it. So it is in Zagreb, Croatia, with fierce dragons. In Zagreb there exists a fixation with these mythological flying, flame blowing monsters!
Dragons have always been popular with children. With adults they are very popular today throughout the world where people watch the TV series Game of Thrones. Last month I lived in and explored Zagreb and learned about their dragons and observed how they are incorporated into the residents’ lives. This is my story about my adventure with the dragons of Zagreb!
Throughout Europe there is an affinity for Saint George who in real life was a Roman military tribune who became a Christian martyr when he refused to renounce his Christian faith and was beheaded. There also is legend built around George and his dealings with the dragon and as a protector of humanity. Legend has it that he did so by slaying a dragon and his story has been told throughout Europe for centuries. You can read about the legend elsewhere on the Internet as this blog is about the sculptures in Zagreb.
In Zagreb, Saint George and dragons are represented in two beautiful sculptures. And dragons have been incorporated into daily life such as in advertisements for a beer company and mobile phones among other things.
In the sculptures, Saint George is depicted as slaying the dragon. These artworks are found near the center of the city… one of which is near the building where the secretive “Order of the Brethren of the Croatian Dragon” is located. The first sculpture of George is of him in quiet contemplation following battle with the dead dragon at the feet of his horse (pictured above) and, in the other sculpture, in fierce mounted battle with the dragon (pictured below).
While in college I struggled though Art History 101. So, by no means am I an art critic. However, I do enjoy seeing beauty in works of art and the relationships to mankind. Here are my thoughts about these two Zagreb sculptures which I find to be very interesting.
In the one pictured above, the dead dragon (depicted in stone) is at the feet of George’s horse. I am certain that the battle must have been both fierce and exhausting for the horse and for George. The horse’s head is bowed and its feet are planted on the ground. One can sense that the horse isn’t ready to move and the stillness is welcomed relief from the tremendous energy spent in the battle.
George sits atop the horse with his helmet off. He too is tired from the vicious battle. He isn’t looking at his vanquished foe but is meditative and inwardly focused. One can wonder what he is thinking… maybe about more dragons that are in waiting that need to be beaten. Some often think of dragons as representing Satan and George may be contemplating his foe in this way. What are your thoughts?
The second statue of George and the dragon is not far from the first one. It depicts a raging, fierce battle between George and the open-jawed reptile. With his sword held high and the dragon at his feet, one can imagine the mighty blow that George is about to deliver, splitting the head of the ugly creature!
The fear in the eyes of the horse is clearly evident but in George’s face you can see that he is absolutely calm and confident. It is as if this were just a typical workday and that slaying dragons is nothing special. Look into his face in the photo taken from the dragon’s perspective and see what I mean. George is a strong, seasoned, fearless warrior.
There are other instances of dragons in the city as I mentioned previously. And the secret society “Order of the Brethren of the Croation Dragon” lends to the mystery surrounding dragons in Zagreb. When I return there in a few months I want to seek more information about this society, what they do and why. Until then, the beautiful statues of Saint George slaying the dragon and the use of dragon images in Zagreb are fascinating to me. I suspect that they are to many visitors as well who are both surprised and happy to see them interwoven with this culture.
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