What is the oldest historical account of European dragons (Lindworms, Drakones etc.) being associated with Asian dragons (Lóng, Ryū)? Is the association simply because they are both serpent-like fantastic beasts or is there more to it?

1 Answer 1


Well, Marco Polo (scan down to Chapter XLIX) describes "vast serpents" that are found in the province of "Carajan" (probably Yunnan). He didn't say he actually saw them and didn't call them "dragons".

But all dragon myths probably have a common origin deep in humanity's past: A deep instinctual fear of snakes. It appears that primates are hardwired to detect snakes as one of their defense mechanisms against predators. Dragon myths were one of the ways the ancients expressed this fear, probably reinforced by spotting dinosaur bones and the like. (this last being vaguely remembered from old college lectures).

  • (1) Is serpent a word for dragon? If no, then I'm not sure how this answer answers the question: it's asking for the first instance where European dragons are compared to Asian dragons, and your example isn't such a comparison. (2) The second paragraph has all kinds of problems with it. I don't really think we can conclude, based on the evidence you have provided, that humans have a "deep instinctual fear of snakes".
    – user62
    Apr 16, 2016 at 14:39
  • 3
    Did you even read the sources I linked to? The OP never uses the word 'compared', only 'associated'. And does use the word 'serpent'. Any Renaissance European reading Marco Polo's account would recall their European dragon legends and say "He's describing a dragon".
    – Spencer
    Apr 17, 2016 at 2:35
  • I've already read about the thing with the snakes, but since the Chinese dragons are rarely a source of fear and mostly benevolent creatures, I don't really think that that's where the connection lies. Apr 22, 2016 at 16:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.