24 June 2008

The Lagend of Wawel Dragon

I recently spent a few days in Cracow (Kraków is the Polish spelling), celebrating my birthday together with my partner. He had never been to Cracow and I thought he should visit at least once one of the most interesting, historic and magical cities in Poland. One day in May we arrived in Cracow. And of course we had to visit Wawel, the Royal Castle, the Cathedral and the Dragon’s Den. Yep; it is a serious thing, the Dragon’s Den under the Wawel Hill. As a creator of two extraordinary dragons, Betelgeuse and Mintaka, I could not of course ignore the fascinating legend of Cracow about the Wawel Dragon. I even made a short movie – I filmed the dragon’s den for you. I will publish it as soon as I can get my Sony camcorder software to download the video from my Sony Camcorder!

For now here is an illustration of the Wawel Dragon from Sebastian Münster's, Cosmographie Universalis from 1544,

As usual in European culture the Wawel Dragon is a monster. A carnivorous, gigantic beast, consuming young women, and he is particular fond of virgins (what is it that’s so special about virgins?!).
King Krak, a legendary king of Cracow, was very afraid that soon he would have to leave the newly founded town if no one could stop the Dragon eating young girls, killing civilians, pillaging their homes and devouring their livestock.
The bravest knights and warriors of the King took on the fight against the dragon but none of them succeed in vanquishing it. The King became desperate. When every girl in the city was eventually sacrificed except one, the King's daughter Wanda, the King promised his beautiful daughter's hand in marriage to anybody who could defeat the dragon. Great warriors from near and far fought for the prize and failed. One day, a poor cobbler's apprentice named Skuba Dratewka accepted the challenge. He stuffed a lamb with sulphur and put it outside the dragon's cave. The dragon ate it and soon became extremely thirsty. He turned to the Vistula River for relief and he drank and drank and drank. But no amount of water could quell his aching stomach, and after swelling up from drinking half of the Vistula River, he exploded! Skuba Dratewka married the King's daughter as promised and they lived happily ever after.
In Poland to this day people who are admired for dealing with tricky situations in a shrewd way are sometimes described in slang as ‘skubany’.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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