Dino Dinosaur

Scientists tell us that dinosaurs were extinct for millions of years before man emerged on this earth, and yet virtually every ancient society had legends about giant terrible "reptile like" animals. These giant monsters often had huge wings, long horns, breathed fire and could swallow men or ships whole. It is only within the last 50 years that we have made dinosaurs into a benign cultural phenomena.

In Egyptian legend, the dragon was the enemy of RA, the sun god. In Greek and Roman mythology, Hercules, Apollo and other great heroes fought dragons, and dragons adorned their shields and battle staffs. The Bible also has several references to dragons.

In European mythology, these monsters represented evil and were pursued by brave knights and both Saint George and Saint Michael fought these beasts. In Norse mythology, the dragon guarded the Treasure of Rheingold.

St. George slaying the dragon

St. George slaying the dragon is found on spoons from many different countries. This spoon is a Dutch bon-bon resting on twin porpoises (ca. 1870-1880)

St. Michael slaying the poor dragon again on a cute art nuevo handled spoon with lots of Victorian era styling.

In Chinese mythology, however, while the dragon physically looked like the European versions, it became a symbol of power, fertility and well being. It was the emblem of the Imperial Family and was even on the flag until 1911. The Chinese dragon “Lung” represents the Yang or maleness in the Yin/Yang scheme of the universe.

This full figured dragon handled spoon has a crescent with a star and soldered sun ball finial. The handle has been cast and then extensive hand chasing was done to show all the scales on the skin. The handle is attached to the gold washed bowl by a double split joint which is very strong. The bowl has an engraved scene of a hut on stilts and is labeled “Manila ‘98”. This is just about the time that Admiral Dewey captured the city during the Spanish American War and this spoon was probably a souvenir purchased by one of the victorious sailors. The spoon has one mark in Chinese script which is hard to read and another mark with the letters “kw”. (The Bali and South Seas dragons were represented as the “good force” in opposition to the evil witch Rangda).

I don't read Chinese script, but suspect that the characters refer to Yang

a full figured dragon handled spoon which has large three dimensional horns on it. The handle is completely handworked and very extensively chased on both the front and back. The silversmith obviously spent considerable time making the scales. It is soldered to the spoon bowl with a “butt” end which would make it of “questionable use” under normal circumstances, so it was either a souvenir or used in a ceremonial capacity. There are no marks, but it tests as a good grade of silver.

a full handle dragon which is all handworked with a handworked bowl. Very tiny mark is in Chinese characters

left: dragon wrapped around a post?

right: Nagasaki dragon--from a service of twelve demitasse spoons. The dragon finials are all cast, but the bowls are individually flat chased. The mark on the back indicates that it is from Nagasaki and it has a mark of “84” which is a Russian Zolotnik silver standard (roughly equivalent to Sterling).

Dragon on stem, but the bowl is an engraved picture of a strange looking fish This is a hand repoussed and chased dragon on what appears to be a hand pounded spoon handle and bowl. There is also a lightly flat chased picture of a “mythological” fish in the bowl. It has one mark with both Chinese script and English letters “HF”, and resembles typical Chinese Export silver marks.

Lovely full figured hand made dragon handle with a beautiful oval jade finial

hand made dragon with cutout chinese characters in the tail

This is a very conventional looking tablespoon with a cast/hand chased dragon at the finial. There are Chinese characters engraved on the back (no idea what it says--translation anybody?) and there are Chinese maker marks. This is a nice example of Chinese Export Silver flatware.

Apparently this dragon looking creature is actually a giant viper in the act of eating a child or sometimes a Moor.

It is on the coat of arms of Milan and is the  emblem of the Italian Visconti Family (over a thousand years).

The legend  is traced to paleochristian times and to the biblical story of Jonah (we think of him as being swallowed by a whale,but they thought it was a giant snake)

In addition, a variation of this legend is from Theoderic the Great (poem: Virginal)

Hand engraved dragon, marked Wai Kee 90% silver

Spoon is marked as hand made in Taiwan. The dragon at the top is quite detailed and well done. The lotus bowl is engraved with Chinese characters.

If the ancient civilizations didn’t know about dinosaurs, why did they all know about

dragons? and why have these legends persevered into our own “enlightened times”?

                                                                           mummified dragon spoon

A mummified dinosaur has been found in Canada. This process preserved the skin and what the beast actually looked like. It is quite possible that other mummified creatures were found by the ancients in arid lands.

Visit the huge dragon hunter spoons

Click to see the piasa bird spoon