Month of the Dragon is almost over and with it Adopt-A-Dragon Week. (Not that you can’t adopt a Dragon at any time; and we hope you will.)
While the more fortunate Dragons round the world are getting ready to raise a little hell tonight, there are others who are just hanging on by their talon tips. They are confronted by habitat loss and urban sprawl, by industry polluting the fishing waters and smogging up the skies. Dragons may live in balance with the world, but they are also great big fiery creatures who can’t help but need a lot of room over which to roam. Back a Dragon into a corner and you get a stressed out, unhappy Dragon.
With that in mind, today we’re highlighting some of the weyrs most affected by recent human encroachment.
In the remnants of the once-vast rain forests of Madagascar, between the Mania River and the Parc National de Isalo, lies Mahatahotra Anjely: the weyr of the Terrible Angels. Until recently little was known about the Malagasy Dragons. They were only occasionally glimpsed above the canopy, or playing with lemurs at dusk, and otherwise kept to themselves. When deforestation threatened the indigenous fauna of the island, the Dragons rose to the occasion and started buzzing the lumbermen and generally throwing draconic spanners into the works. It has helped some, though not enough.
The green on the weyr’s banner is in remembrance of forests lost, and in hopes of forests yet to be restored. The orange and red are shades of the evening sky when the sun sets over the Mozambique Channel. The Dragon biting his tail is a symbol of the eternity of Dragon and Earth, no matter what.
Dragons are frequently driven to distraction by the foolish ways of humans, and none more so than the Enchantments of Depsang Weyr. Situated high in India’s Depsang Plains, the weyr overlooks the oft-bloodied mountains of Kashmir. From the days of bandits assaulting caravans on the Saser-La road to the sanguinary exchanges of more recent years, they have watched and waited for the indigenous peoples to come to their senses. Unfortunately, things have only gotten worse over time. Still they wait. It is an advantage of draconic longevity, being able to outlast much of our human stupidity.
This patience is evident in the Depsang Weyr standard. A centred Dragon sits, waiting, beneath a mountain sun blazing across a tri-color field. It is of note that the Karakalpak people of Uzbekistan use the same tri-color field on their flag – a link to a shared history, perhaps, along the trade routes of yore.
The Dragons of San Long – or Three Dragon – Weyr in central China are as close to urbanites as any in the modern world. Given the population of China, this is not exactly a surprise. Located on the outskirts of the historic city of Shashi in Hubei Province, the weyr dates back to the splendor of the Tang Dynasty. The Dragons are very conscious of their heritage; they’ve been known to lord it over younger weyrs to great effect. No one knows yet how construction of the Three Gorges Dam will impact the Dragons, but speculation is it won’t be good.
Red, white, and black, the flag displays the three Dragons in the weyr’s name, two curvaceous creatures on the red side panels, and, in the centre pale on a sable roundel, the pictograph for Dragon.
Within sight of the fading snows on Mount Kilimanjaro one finds the weyr known as the Mountains of the Moon. Somewhat isolated by virtue of their location, the Dragons are, none the less, quite a gregarious bunch. Though staying away from the human problems in the region, they have been known to assist in anti-poaching efforts. It has been suggested that, if Dian Fossey had asked for their help with the gorillas, things might not have turned out as badly as they did.
The Mountains of the Moon Weyr celebrates one of the much-maligned pseudo-Dragons, the morose Bi-Polar Equator Jumper, who would certainly have gone extinct were it not for the weyr’s efforts. A B-PEJ is on the pale of jungle green and a compass to help him on his travels is placed front and centre on the tri-color fesses beside him.
Of the known South American weyrs, the northernmost is found in the western foothills of the Columbian Andes, Cuesta de los Tímido Dragónes – Hill of the Shy Dragons. With soil enriched by the activities of the Ring of Fire, the weyr’s environs are rain-forest lush and home to a wide variety of cohabitants, everyone from humans, bears, and monkeys, to serpents, hummingbirds, and colorful little frogs. The Dragons feel quite at home. Why then “Shy Dragons?” This epithet comes from the habit the weyr Dragons have of flocking together – a most impressive sight. Safety in numbers, taunt those who know no better. “As you wish,” the Dragons reply unoffended. The truth is, they are just a very social lot, and find that flocking like the other winged creatures is the best way not to spook the whole neighborhood.
The weyr’s bandera shows a gaggle of seven small Dragons crossing a white field. A blue sky Dragon dancing on purple-on-blue stars urges them into the sky.
Long before the Japanese moved north from Honshu, long even before the Ainu moved south from Sakhalin, the snow macaques and cranes and foxes of Hokkaido shared their home with the Dragons of Iyoype Usor – Treasure Lagoon. The weyr is not on a true lagoon, more of a great geothermal pool in the mountains north of Sapporo, and the only treasure about are the Dragons themselves. Still, a name is what it is.
Though associating freely with the island’s indigenous creatures, the Dragons are cool, some might even say aloof, when it comes to interacting with people. The Olympics encroaching on their space in 1972 didn’t help matters: too much modern brouhaha disturbing their hot-spring mediations.
The Usor banner begins with a field of warm, earthen brown. A blue and white Dragon, all coolness and long-life, prances between two blue stars, reminders that, as the Weyr inhabitants say, “We are all star stuff, even Dragons.”
Deep in the rain forest of Brazil, where Boto dolphins swim with river otters and macaws light up the skies by the hundreds, the Japura flows into the Amazon. It branches through the underbrush forming what amounts to an inland island weyr: Consoles dos Dragones Real – the Island of the Royal Dragons. Descendents of members of the Second Migration, the Royal Dragons adapted quickly to their dense forest environment. They became smaller, leaner, more agile. They shed their heavy scales in favor of lighter, more leathern integuments. Even their diet changed to include more vegetation and nuts. In short, they turned into perfect rainforest denizens, able to move about through underbrush or canopy, not bothered by the steamy climate of their new home. Now they are busy making sure humans do not destroy that home. At the current rate of Amazon deforestation, this is not an easy task.
The standard of Consoles dos Dragones Real is deep forest green with diagonals of river blue. At its centre, a crown tops a Dragon head erased on an ebon roundel.
As you head out tonight with your Dragons for a little pre-Halloween mischief, Keep a good thought for all the pinched and harassed Dragons of the world. Surely there can be room enough for us all.
I end with a cautionary plea: make sure your Dragons only get up to a little mischief this October 30th. No wholesale destruction or mayhem. We don’t want all the positive PR we’ve been doing all year negated in a puff of ill-placed Dragonfire.