From Russia with love- soul, traditions, cuisine (snowymelodie) wrote,
From Russia with love- soul, traditions, cuisine
snowymelodie

Zmey Gorynych- Russian dragon


Well.. it's again a time  tell misterious stories. This time it will be Zmey Gorynych - Russian dragon, my favorite heroe of our fairy-tales in my 'deep' childhood.

In Slavic mythology, the word “zmey” and its cognates zmiy, zmaj, zmej and żmij are used to describe a dragon. Most of these words are masculine forms of the Slavic word for "snake", which is normally feminine (like Russian “zmeya”). In Romania, there is a similar figure, derived from the Slavic dragon and named zmeu. In Polish and Belarusian folklore a dragon is also called smok. Although quite similar to other European dragons, Slavic dragons have their peculiarities. Also the word ‘Gorynych’ came from the Russian word ‘goret’ – ‘to burn’, because his main arms is a fire form the mouth. (Somebody thinks it came from the word ‘gora’- mountain)
In Ukraine and Russia, a particular dragon-like creature, Zmey Gorynych has three heads, is green, walks on two back paws, has small front paws, and spits fire. According to one “bylina”-legend, Zmey Gorynych was killed by Dobrynya Nikitich. Zmey can have 3, 5 and even 12 heads according to various legends. Some have heads that grow back if every single head isn't cut off.

Other Russian dragons (such as Tugarin Zmeyevich) have Turkic names, probably symbolizing the Mongols and other steppe peoples. Accordingly, St George (symbolizing Christianity) killing the Dragon (symbolizing Satan) is represented on the coat of arms of Moscow. Some prehistoric structures, notably the Serpent's Wall near Kiev, have been associated with dragons as symbols of foreign peoples.
There are a lot of old fairy-tales and legends about Zmey Gorynych, the most well-known is a legend about Zmey and Russian “bogatyr”- knight Dobrynya Nikitich. When they met in the battle Zmey asked Dobrynya to let him go and promised never burn towns, and villages, kidnapp girls and even promised ‘to write ‘great memories’ ! Dobrynya agreed, but on the way back Zmey kidnapped the princess again and so Dobrynya came and killed him.
Some legends tell about the friendship between Zmey and princess, Zmey teach the prince to hunt and so on- but every legend ends with a death of Zmey.

There is a joke:
“Once a famous Russian “Bogatyr”-Knight Ilya Murometz was, as usually, at home. A group of old men from the village came to see him and said:
-Ilya, help us, Zmey Gorynych is so angry, he burnt 3 villages, he ate all the hens, we are in trouble!
No answer from the Ilya.
Some days after they came again:
-Ilya, helps us, please, Zmey destroyed 10 villages, ate all the cows, kidnapped our wives!
No answer.
Some days after men came again:
-Ilya, it’s a nightmare. He destroyed 20 villages, he ate all the domestic animals, he kidnapped all the princesses and he is very close to us now!
Ilya started to get up and to take his dress. Old men were so glad!
-Ilya, you are going to help us at last!!!
-Oh, fellows,.-said Ilya- it’s time to escape now!

Tags: russian myths dragon zmay gorynych
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