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Monday, May 13, 2013

Here Be Dragons

The Welsh Flag
I love the Welsh flag.  As national flags go, the Driag Goch (Red Dragon) much certainly rate as one of the most eye-catching on the planet.  Combine it with the beautifully poignant and melodious national anthem "Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau" and the Welsh are blessed with a bounty of epic national symbols!
But I confess that on lovespoons, the poor old flag dragon has been done to death.  All the mass production and tourist type spoons which feature a dragon inevitably have the flag dragon tacked onto the design and looking awkward and out of place.   
There are other, much more expressive, beautiful and unique ways to feature the Driag Goch and to make the most of his symbolic power as the mascot of Cymru.
So here are a couple of dragons which I think still promote Welshness and Welsh pride but without the cliche of looking exactly like every other dragon that's ever been carved on a spoon!
Sino-Celtic Wedding spoon
Like the Welsh, the Chinese recognize the symbolic power of the dragon.  This wedding spoon unites the two very different dragons around a ming dynasty knot pattern.  The flowing dragons with their sinuous tails give the spoon movement, vibrancy and great 'life'.  The very different design styles compliment each other very nicely too!
Here's a dragon which is much more traditional in its form although it looks quite stylized.  It's a very simple rendering which emphasizes the simple wings, tail and the long tongue, but it is still a powerful image (as a dragon should be!).
This dragon is much more Nordic in appearance.  Carved for a spoon celebrating Odinist and Wiccan beliefs, this spoon has a very 'Viking' feel about it.  The long neck and shield-like wings of the dragon evoke the image of a Viking longship's prow...the merging of a variety of art styles harks back to the time when Viking and Celtic art forms met for the first time.
These stylish and very romantic dragons were created from ancient Celtic zoomorphic forms.  Originally, they lacked the wings and the knotwork tongues and probably weren't intended as dragons at all.  But their lizard-like faces, long necks and sinuous bodies were perfect models for this modern update of very ancient images.  
Bookmark and ShareThese last two images show a dragon that I have been developing over the last couple of years.  I've used him several times on a variety of spoons and am very fond of him!   I'll probably continue experimenting with him a few more times until I think I've used up my ideas...then I will come up with something else.   He's a lovely dragon though.  Neither overly aggressive or too passive, he makes a perfect crown for a spoon design and the knot his head and neck enfold can be kept as a 'closed' eternal knot, or it can be run from his tongue to form a Celtic knot style 'flame' or tongue.

There are no doubt more dragon designs yet to be discovered than I have time to carve in my lifetime, so I very much doubt that I will ever need to resort to the flag dragon to get my message of Welsh pride out!!

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