Famous Dragons

A list of specific dragons from myth, legend, and folklore.

Dragons are famous the world over, and tales of their deeds and prowess find their way into many myths and folk tales. This is a list of legendary named dragons.

Yamata no Orochi

Mentioned in the Kojiki, Japan's oldest book, Yamata no Orochi was a very big Japanese dragon with eight heads. In Japanese, "eight" sometimes means "many," so Yamata no Orochi may have had "many" heads. Its eyes were as red as cherries, and its belly was always covered in blood. Pine and cypress trees grew on its back, and it was so immense that it covered many hills and valleys.

The warrior Susanoo slayed the dragon by getting it drunk on sake and then cutting off all its heads. In doing so, he saved the princess Kushi'inada, who otherwise would have been sacrificed. She was the last of eight daughters, all the rest of which had already been eaten by Yamata no Orochi.

Susanoo (alternately spelled Susano'o, Susa-no-O, or Susanowo) took a sword which was found in one of the dragon's tails, called Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, which eventually was passed down from generation to generation, becoming one of the three Imperial Regalia of Japan.

Along with Yofune-Noshi, Yamata no Orochi is one of the few eastern dragons seen as an evil monster.

Yu ()

Yu was the rain god in Chinese mythology, a beautiful golden dragon. The legend Yu Controlled the Flood explains how he came to be.

The Yellow Emperor, supreme god of the Chinese, looked upon the earth and the wickedness of its inhabitants. He ordered the rain god to cause a great flood over the earth, to cleanse it of humanity's evil. Kun, the Yellow Emperor's grandson, pleaded with his grandfather to end the rains, but the Yellow Emperor did not listen.

Kun met an old, wise tortoise who offered a solution. He told Kun that the Yellow Emperor kept a jar of magic mud in his treasury, and that this mud would solve his problem. Kun stole the jar of magic mud and began spreading it around. Wherever the mud touched, islands of dry land sprung up from the sea.

Having witnessed this, the Yellow Emperor sent the god of fire to kill Kun. Kun turned into the form of a white horse and hid, but the fire god found him and killed him. From his dead body sprung new life. This new life was Yu, Kun's son. Yu was a beautiful dragon with golden scales, a magnificent mane, and five claws per paw.

Yu went to the Yellow Emperor, and, like his late father, begged him to end the flood. He consented, and gave Yu enough magic mud to restore the land. He also appointed Yu the rain god. Yu ended the rain and, with the help of the old tortoise, used the mud to restore the land.

Yu then used his great tail to carve out rivers in the land. The people, having seen this great deed, asked Yu to be their emperor. He consented, and changed from the form of a dragon into the form of a human. He ruled as their emperor, founding the Xia dynasty.

Z

Z was an ancient dragon from mythology of ancient Mesopotamia, Sumer, and Babylon. Zu stole the Tablets of Law and threatened to plunge the world into chaos.

Z, also known as Anz (from An, meaning "heaven," and Z, meaning "far"), is sometimes described as a huge dragon, and other times described as a griffin or storm bird. He is the son of the bird goddess Siris. Both Z and Siris were massive birds who could breathe fire and water.

As the myth goes, Z was a servant of the sky god Enlil, ruler of the universe. He was also the attendent of the monstrous Tiamat. Z stole the Tupsimati, or Tablet of Destinies, from Enlil. Whoever posessed the Tablet of Destinies would have power to rule the universe.

Z flew high up to the top of the Sabu Mountains, and cached the tablets away like eggs in his nest. Enlil sent his son Ninurta, the sun god, to retrieve them. Ninurta killed Z and returned the Tablet of Destinies to Enlil.