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THE ILLUSTRATED BOOK OF DRAGONS AND DRAGON LORE
A new illustrated edition of Ernest Ingersoll’s classic 1928 study of dragons in all their multifarious forms, from Imperial China to St. George. 54,000 words, 92 historical images, 30 contemporary images
Mankind is a tough creature, able to adapt and survive and evolve in any location or situation put in front of them. We have lived in icy wastelands and scorching deserts, in steaming jungles and rocky hills, besides coastlines and on vast grassy plains. We have adapted and formed cultures so unlike one another to almost be alien. But despite the vast size of our world and the varied cultures that inhabit its every corner, there is one thing that connects almost all of mankind's civilisations. One shared piece of imagery that has managed to spread over mountains, borders and seas and wormed its way into the heart of folklore and story: the striking image of the dragon.
With its fiery breath and scaled hide, its sharp fangs and massive wings, there are few images as memorable and vivid as that of the dragon. Majestic and noble, sinister and terrible, enigmatic and omniscient, the dragon has come to represent an entire spectrum of emotions and ideologies. Whether it be the beneficent and powerful water dragons of Chinese mythology or the bestial, damsel-eating drakes of Western folktales, there is no denying the influence and importance dragons have had throughout our history.
These days, the dragon is everywhere, found in films and games – especially popularised by pen-and-paper games such as Dungeons & Dragons – or in stories for both children and adults, embossed on flags and stylised in heraldry, immortalised in statues and art: the image of the dragon is immensely recognizable. The Welsh flag bears the red dragon for example, whose origin can be found in Welsh mythology where during a long battle, the red dragon (representing the people of Wales) defeats the rival white dragon (symbolising the invading Saxons); coincidentally, the red dragon is also surmised by some to represent King Arthur, with the legendary British hero apparently bearing the red dragon as his battle standard as well as on the crest of his helm. Then there is the influence of dragons in Eastern culture, from the ‘Dragon-emperors' of China to the Nagas of Buddhist and Hindu myth.
And while the dragon itself didn't have an exact replica in places such as Africa and the Americas, the serpents and beasts of their myths and legends shared many similarities to how dragons were seen in Europe and Asia. The winged and feathered serpent god Quetzalcoatl of Mesoamerican myth had features that could easily be mistaken for that of the Chinese dragon, and the popular symbol of the Ouroboros – of the snake or dragon eating its own tail in a representation of the cyclicality of life – is first known to have appeared in the times of ancient Egypt...
- With a new forward by Daniel Henley and a unique collection of 122 high-quality dragon-related images drawn from countries as diverse as China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, India, Iran, Turkey, Russia, Armenia, Ethiopia, Mexico and most of Western Europe.
© 2013 CPA Media & Cognoscenti Books. All Rights Reserved.