Feeds:
Posts
Comments

The Gulden Draak

Gulden Draak, the beer I featured in my last post, is actually named after a statue in the city of Ghent, where the brewer, Van Steenberge, is located. Here is the epic tale of that statue.

The Gulden Draak (“golden dragon”) was created for King Sigurd Magnusson of Norway. It was allegedly a figurehead on his Viking longboat. King Sigurd I (1090 – 1130 C. E.) was also known as Sigurd the Crusader because he personally led the Norwegian Crusade of 1107 – 1110 C. E.  On the way back from this crusade, he made several state visits, including one in Constantinople. There he gifted his personal longboat to Emperor Alexios I. The Gulden Draak was removed from the ship and placed atop the dome of the Aya Sophia cathedral.

There it remained for several decades, until Count Baldwin IX of Flanders (1172 – 1205 C. E.) assisted in the conquest of Constantinople as part of the Fourth Crusade (1202 – 1204 C. E.). The Byzantine Empire was repurposed as The Latin Empire, with Baldwin crowned as Emperor in 1205 C. E. Naturally, due to Baldwin’s success, much wealth flowed back to Flanders. One of the pieces returned to Europe was the Gulden Draak.

Initially, the statue was housed in the city-state of Bruges (modern-day Netherlands). However, Bruges later went to war with the rival city-state of Ghent. After a final battle in 1382 C. E, the victorious Ghentese took the Gulden Draak home with them. There it was installed on top of their Belfry, or city hall, where many important documents were stored. The Gulden Draak would protect these documents while acting as an emblem of Ghentese power and independence.

After all its travels, the Gulden Draak had finally found a forever home.


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

Advertisements

IMG_20180716_072515692I’ve already met several beer-bottle dragons. There’s Dragon’s Breath from Bayern Brewery, and Dragon’s Milk from New Holland Brewing. Now my son brought home Gulden Draak, an imported beer from Van Steenberge in Belgium.

The reflections make it a bit hard to see, but this dragon is outlined with rivets. To me, this gives it a distinctive Steamunk vibe.


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

IMG_20180303_154747890Here’s another dragon I met in the grocery store. It’s on a tin of Newman’s Own brand mints. These are ginger flavored. Nummy!

This dragon is so cute with his bushy eyebrows and crazy moustache. Not to mention the tongue action.


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

Tamatori-hime, or Princess Jewel Taker, is one of the most famous folk stories involving the sea dragon, Ryujin.


Long ago in Japan, there was a powerful family known as the Fujiwara Clan. Their leader was Kamatari Fujiwara, and under his guidance the clan became so influential that one of his daughters was even a concubine to the Emperor of China. When Kamatari died, as all men must, the Emperor showed his affection for his concubine by sending a ship with three rich gifts to the funeral.

One of these gifts was a wondrous pearl. When Ryujin heard about it, he thought that no mere mortal deserved to have such a prize. He created a terrible storm, and in the confusion, he stole the pearl! When Kamatari’s son, Fuhito, heard about the loss, he was horrified. Even a powerful clan like the Fujiwaras couldn’t be so careless as to lose a gift from the Emperor of China. It was a terrible disgrace.

Fuhito set off to search in the area where the pearl was last known to be safe on board the ship. The storm had come up along a remote stretch of coast where only a few villagers lived. There Fuhito met a pearl diver named Ama. Although she didn’t know about any lost pearls, Fuhito thought she was the most rare pearl of all. They were married and she bore him a son.

However, Ama was determined to find the Fujiwara Pearl and restore honor to her husband’s and son’s family. She dove and dove again, searching the deepest crevices of the rocks and reefs. Soon she discovered Ryujin’s palace and all the fearsome sea creatures guarding it. By plucking a stringed instrument, Ama was able to lull the guards to sleep. She dove down deeper than ever and fetched the pearl out of Ryujin’s palace.

Alas, once the music stopped, the guards woke up. Brave Ama swam as fast as she could, but it was clear they swam faster than any human ever would. She made a desperate decision. With her diving knife, she cut her own chest open and hid the pearl inside. Blood gushed out, clouding the water. Ama was able to escape!

Although she did reach the shore, the injury claimed her life soon after.  Ama was buried with great honor because of what she had sacrificed to restore her son’s future. Ever since that day she has been remembered as Tamatori-Hime, or Princess Jewel Taker.


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

Ryujin

After all these military-grade Sea Dragons, I’m longing for a truly mythic sea dragon, aren’t you? Well, here you go.

Ryujin was the dragon god who ruled the seas in Japanese folklore. Also known as Ryu-O or Watatsumi, he was a major deity in Japan’s traditional faith, Shinto. Considering that Japan is a group of islands surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, this isn’t surprising. The sea could be bountiful or turn destructive at a moment’s notice, so everyone wanted to get in good with the sea god.

In addition to being the god of the sea, Ryujin was believed to control fresh water springs and the coming of the rain. He could walk in people’s dreams. As a healer, his skill was supreme.

According to the tales, Ryujin lived in a beautiful palace of red and white coral, far beneath the sea. Using a set of magical gems, he was able to control the tides. Other tales say that he had an underground passage to Lake Biwa, on the island of Honshu, and his palace was actually under Lake Biwa. His court was made up of fish, turtles, jellyfish, and similar sea creatures. When he wanted to operate on land, snakes would serve as his messengers.

Like many of the Asian dragons, Ryujin was able to take human form at will. There are various tales of his adventures, although he seems a bit of a homebody. Most humans encounter him by wandering into his domain rather than him being out and about. Like the sea, Ryujin could be fickle. He might be kind and helpful, or dangerous and sinister. Several of the tales show him stealing things from mortals or other deities, so there’s an element of the trickster-god, as well.

Check back on Saturday for one of Ryujin’s legends.


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

In addition to rockets and missiles, the U. S. Navy does have one sea dragon that made it into the real world. That’s the MH-53E heavy helicopter, manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, a longtime pioneer in helicopter design.

Sea Dragon helicopters can operate from aircraft carriers or on land. Fitted with weaponry, they can support ground troops when needed. What they’re best known for, however, is mine sweeping. Sea Dragon can be used to tow all manner of detection devices, with or without countermeasures.

Even with these capabilities, the Sea Dragon has a down side. It is considered crash-prone, with a number of deaths linked to the aircraft over time. Since Sea Dragons already are no longer manufactured, there was serious consideration of grounding them entirely. But without a ready replacement, these helicopters will remain in service for the foreseeable future.

Perhaps the Sea Dragons would be happier if they were used to find sunken treasure instead of mines?


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

I want to talk for a moment about one of my favorite e-zines, Enchanted Coversation. Enchanted Conversation is dedicated to fairy tales, something I adore almost as much as I adore dragons. Four issues a year are devoted to new approaches and analysis of traditional fairy tales. They also have a blog which delivers flash fiction by some of their regular contributors.

On Monday last, Enchanted Conversation presented a fun flash fiction about dragons and their hoards. I couldn’t resist sharing, so here’s a link to that. Enjoy! Afterward, I hope you’ll take a look at everything Enchanted Conversation has to offer.


Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.