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Da Vinci and his Dragons

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posted on Sep, 21 2005 @ 03:37 AM
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Personally I'm not a firm believer of the existence of dragons due to the lack of physical evidence. But during a recent study of Leonardo Da Vinci sketches in his notebooks I noticed that he often drew dragons. Most of time he did a study of horses or cats (or even faces) and then end up drawing a lion and then a dragon.

I'm aware of his St George and the dragon studies (but I'm not aware of a painting he did of this), but most of his drawings were of something real even when he ventured towards mythology and symbolism. And his drawings of dragons were throughout his lifetime, and not just during a certain stage.

The question is now, why his "fixation" with dragons? Da Vinci is well known for his vision and insight into life, spirituality, science and nature. Did Da Vinci know something we don't? And there's quite a few similarities between the dragons Leonardo drew, and the ancient Chinese dragons. (Although the Chinese dragons are more serpent-like, they are often accompanied by tigers...)

Here's his study of cats. Note the lion in the centre of the drawings and then the dragon below right of it...
Cats Study with Dragon
EDIT: Working link of the Study of Cats:
Cats study

A dragons head. Note that it looks like the dragon has hair, not scales...
Dragons Head

"Study and design" of a dragon.
Full Sized dragon

I can spot 5 dragons and one lion in this study of horses...
Study of Horses (Click to enlarge)

I couldn't find any more of the sketches I'm referring to, but the book with many of these sketches is Through the Eyes of Leonardo by Barrington Barber. I'll look for more of these sketches in the meantime....

Any thoughts on this?


[edit on 21-9-2005 by Gemwolf]




posted on Sep, 21 2005 @ 06:52 AM
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That first image is on a tripod site and won't let you remote link to it.

I had never heard about him drawing dragons. Quite an interesting find. He sure drew lots of crazy stuff, and most of it ended up getting made actually (like the bicycle, planes, etc). Also some more adventurous ideas like "walk on water shoes". I don't know why he drew dragons though... whether he was seeing them in real life or just imagining them through mythology. You can draw random things, but most people draw what they know. You probably won't sit down and just start randomly drawing a bigfoot one day. But I guess it's still possible. I don't know what to make of it though really. Are there any more pages, with writings and descriptions by him about the dragons?



posted on Sep, 21 2005 @ 07:38 AM
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That first image is on a tripod site and won't let you remote link to it.

Oops... Here's another link... Click on the image to enlarge:

Cats study

There isn't much information about his (Da Vinci's) drawings of dragons. Some say the dragon is a symbol of circumspection and intelligence, but it doesn't make sense to do a study of the movements of cats and then draw something of symbolism on there...?


Da Vinci made notes with many of his sketches but with the exception of this study, I'm not aware of any notes he made on the "animals". But there are 4200 pages of these notes and manuscripts and I doubt if all of these are documented on the Internet.

Keep in mind that reading Da Vinci's notes isn't a plain task at all. Not only did Leonardo write in mirror-image script from right to left, but he also used peculiar spellings and abbreviations, and his notes are not arranged in any logical order. And to make it even more difficult he wrote in a variation of Italian.

Another important fact is that Leonardo was a scientist and demanded nothing but the truth.

"There is no certainty in sciences where one of the mathematical sciences cannot be applied, or which are not in relation with these mathematics. "
- Da Vinci

"We ought not to desire the impossible. "- Da Vinci

Da Vinci supported only true science and upheld followers of the false science, alchemists and necromancers, as the worst possible example of that time's science:

"Mental things that have not been derived through the senses are vain, and nothing but harmful truth is born of them...This happens and will happen throughout eternity to the alchemists, who seek to create gold and silver; to those who endeavour to make dead water come alive and create perpetual motion; and to the most stupid, necromancers and magicians." - Da Vinci

That's right! Da Vinci hated "magicians" - today dragons and magicians (wizards) go hand in hand!



posted on Sep, 21 2005 @ 07:59 AM
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You might also want to look at the Ishtar Gate of ancient Babylon. It bears a depiction of dragons, alongside lions and bulls. What do you think the link was between Da Vinci's lions or other cats and dragons?



posted on Sep, 21 2005 @ 08:14 AM
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Originally posted by Jeremiah25
You might also want to look at the Ishtar Gate of ancient Babylon. It bears a depiction of dragons, alongside lions and bulls. What do you think the link was between Da Vinci's lions or other cats and dragons?


Looking at the Ishtar Gate as you point out there is once again a connection between lions and dragons. Da Vinci made the same connection not only with lions but also with horses as well, but most of the time the horse/dragon were antagonists. In this sketch (the first picture of the series) there is a lion and a dragon in a fierce struggle, but most of the sketches, Da Vinci would first sketch a lion and then a dragon as if one thought led to another?

I can't think of any connection between any of the animals, thus the reason for the post... To get some opinions and share ideas...



posted on Sep, 21 2005 @ 11:42 AM
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In all admittance, I know very little about Da Vinci; only what I've read of him in "How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci" by an author whose name I cannot recall at the moment. But, I'm guessing in Da Vinci's study of biology and kinesthetics he may have been fascinated by the Dragon's fusion of animals from the mammal and reptile species. Maybe he was struck by the question "How would a cat move if it had the body of a snake and the wings of an eagle?" I've read that he was prone to doodle on impulse and mix notes and sketches liberally. An artists equivalent to free-verse poetry.



posted on Sep, 21 2005 @ 11:46 AM
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I think the answer is simple his fixation with dragons was becasue they are ''cool''. I fancy myself a artist and have drawn many a dragon for that simple fact. To this day Dragons are the subject in many forms of art.

They are great subject matter.

Also Da Vinci had a Fascination with flight and im sure that made flying dragons all the more interesting to him.



posted on Sep, 21 2005 @ 12:18 PM
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Isn't this like saying that because teenage girls draw pictures of flying unicorns that there are such things as flying unicorns??? I mean, is the only way that davinci could've drawn a dragon that he had one sit for portriature??



posted on Sep, 21 2005 @ 04:38 PM
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I agree. If Da Vinci was drawing dragons because he'd seen them in real life, or he knew they had once existed, he must have seen many different species and/or varieties. The dragons in the examples you've shown us are vastly different from each other.

The dragon in the cats study does not have wings; it just looks like a very large lizard.

The dragon face actually looks more lion-like, like an oriental dragon. (More on this later.)

I can't see the dragons in the horse study very well, but they do seem to have wings--small, bat-like wings.

The image of the dragon and the lion fighting. This dragon has two legs--what my friend would call a wyvern--and an odd sort of physiology. Example: the wings. The working of wings in the animal kingdom is much like a human arm and hand with skin stretched between all of the bones, as seen here (pterodactyl, bat, and bird). Da Vinci's dragon's wings would make it pretty difficult for that animal to fly.

But, as you've shown us, he also drew a diagram depicting the workings of a dragon's wings, and they seem to be very accurate in comparison to the animal wings we know today.

So why did he draw the wyvern's wings like he did?

You'll also note his lion pictures. There is a significant lack of a tail-tuft, which leads me to believe that he didn't draw lions from life, as he seems to have done with the cats and horses. If not for the manes on the male lions, I would almost say he was drawing a panther.

So, then . . . why the obession with lions and dragons? If I recall correctly, the dragon is (or was) often associated with the Devil because Satan was referred to as a "dragon" in the Bible (Revelations 12:7), and thus the dragon was cast in a bad light. In mythology, it was often being slain by valiant knights (St. George comes immediately to mind).

As for the lion aspect, perhaps Leonardo felt a bit of a kinship with the animals, since his name, if my translation is correct, means "bold lion". So, if a dragon is evil, then perhaps drawing a lion fighting it is symbolic to him of his battle with the "evil inside", so to speak. And even not drawing the lion fighting the dragon, but just drawing lions and dragons together is another form of this symbolism.

Or I could just be rambling. I admittedly don't know much about Da Vinci and his life. Very interesting find, though.



posted on Sep, 22 2005 @ 02:23 AM
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Originally posted by Nygdan
Isn't this like saying that because teenage girls draw pictures of flying unicorns that there are such things as flying unicorns??? I mean, is the only way that davinci could've drawn a dragon that he had one sit for portriature??


@Nygdan and Shadow

This is very true. If it were any other artist I wouldn't have thought twice about any dragon drawings, and would have laughed it off as doodling. But the fact that it's Da Vinci is making it a mystery. I'm not trying to make something out of Da Vinci that he's not.

The fact remains, as I pointed out earlier, that Da Vinci was a true scientist and had no time for silly theories. To illustrate this I'd like to refer to the "shells and flood" hypotheses. You can find the story here: Leonardo Da Vinci under the heading of Geology.



In Leonardo's day there were several hypotheses of how it was that shells and other living creatures were found in rocks on the tops of mountains. Some believed the shells to have been carried there by the Biblical Flood; others thought that these shells had grown in the rocks. Leonardo had no patience with either hypothesis, and refuted both using his careful observations. Concerning the second hypothesis, he wrote that "such an opinion cannot exist in a brain of much reason; because here are the years of their growth, numbered on their shells, and there are large and small ones to be seen which could not have grown without food, and could not have fed without motion -- and here they could not move." There was every sign that these shells had once been living organisms.
...
Since things are much more ancient than letters, it is no marvel if, in our day, no records exist of these seas having covered so many countries. . . But sufficient for us is the testimony of things created in the salt waters, and found again in high mountains far from the seas.


Da Vinci did his studies of subjects scientifically. To date there are few artists who could capture the human skull as accurate as Da Vinci.
Human Skull
Skeleton
He studied the human body with extreme scrutiny. He didn't do anything similar with animals - with the exception of horses, which he studied to make sculptures. He made no other "design" of an animal like the one of the dragon (dragon study) ... And isn't this somehow similar to the Vitruvian Man (the famous sketch)?

And another interesting dragon instance is a mystery found in the archives surrounding the unfinished The Adoration of the Magi painting. (This site has a high detailed example of the painting). In his preparation and studies for the painting there is horseman fighting a dragon (couldn't find this picture on the Internet but it does exist!). If you look in the right hand corner you'll find the same rearing horseman (knight) in front of a cave, but no dragon - although there is something there, maybe another horse, maybe some dogs... I don't know.

@Wolvaurynphamir - thank you for your input! This was the kind of insight and opinion I was hoping for. My knowledge of dragons is up to s... so I really appreciated the comparison of the different dragons.

I agree that the lions are not African lions but most probably panthers or mountain lions.

I don't 100% agree that dragons are symbolic for the Devil. During the Renaissance Satan was depicted as a snake - but it's not impossible that you're right.



posted on Sep, 22 2005 @ 02:20 PM
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The symbolic connotations of dragons are too vast and varied to get into too deeply in a forum of this nature but it is sufficient to say that the dragon is a potent and important symbol worldwide. It depends upon how you want to look at the situation. If you want to just think about DaVinci as an artist there are many reasons why he may have drawn a dragon during a given period of sketching, the most obvious being that the fancy struck him. Why include a dragon in a study of cats? One reason might be because there was space on the page and that there's no need to waste available paper in your personal notebook. I really don't see how being a scientist in any way negates an artist's ability to depict an image of fantasy. Scientist or not he was still a human being, not a robot. Da Vinci's contemporaries, Heironymus Bosch and Albrecht Durer, and many, many other artists working pre and post Renaissance, did numerous depictions of fantastic creatures. The reasons why they may have done so and what these images might symbolically mean is an area of art history study rife with contradicting opinions and observations. Also Da Vinci did relatively few finished pieces compared to the number of sketches and plans he developed but never executed. One look at any of his masterpieces will indicate how much time it must have taken to produce them.

The Dragon is a universal symbol found in, for all intents and purposes, every culture in the world. One obvious reason for this is the clearly recognizable form of the constellation Draco. The interactions of this constellation to, say, the constellations of the zodiac became the basis for many myths and legends, as a means of transmitting knowledge of keeping time over a vast period. This is just one reason why Da Vinci, an esotericist by anyone's definition, may have sketched a dragon in opposition to a lion (Leo).



posted on Sep, 23 2005 @ 03:18 AM
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Thanks for your input Cicada!

I guess all of this is just speculation. Again one of those topics that revolves around guesswork. Imagine what it would be like to talk to Da Vinci for a day... What a brilliant mind! (I'll have to work on my Italian though
)

As I said before, yes, Da Vinci was an artist, but the fact that he was a "no nonsense scientist" does change a simple doodle into something questionable.

Leonardo was not unfamiliar with symbolism... One of his most famous symbolic sketches is the Wolf in the Boat Sketch.
Source with Picture
Another Source
It's called a Political Allegory with the Wolf possibly as the Pope (a negative character!) at the steer (in front of a compass), with a live tree possibly the church or society, steering towards an eagle perched on planet earth. Some say this is symbolic for France, others suggests it is Germany (possibly a prediction of WW2)... This is all again just speculation.

See, what bothers me even more, is the lack of information about the depicted dragons. Da Vinci's works have been studied over and over again. Yet, there is little mention about the dragons. Are (art) historians afraid to venture down that path? Or are they just as in the dark about them, or are they ignoring them because they carry no importance?

A quick question... Those who read Da Vinci's Code (it's on my to do list): Any mention of dragons in the book? I know it's just fiction, but it's worth a thought...



posted on Sep, 23 2005 @ 06:05 PM
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Originally posted by Gemwolf
A quick question... Those who read Da Vinci's Code (it's on my to do list): Any mention of dragons in the book? I know it's just fiction, but it's worth a thought...


Not that I recall but it's a worthwhile book to read if you're interested in DaVinci, no matter what anybody tells you.



posted on Sep, 26 2005 @ 06:12 PM
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well da vinci was not the only one who "drew" or wrote about dragons during that time, if you look to a certain order called order of the dragon they also had dragons all over their symbols and castles. A member of the said order had journals which describes in detail about dragons and mystics, though alot of people think the said member of the order private journals had been destroyed that isn't at all the truth they were moved before enemies could even find or get at them. these journals I know are in safe hands away from those who would want to seek the knowledge for all the wrong purposes. Maybe one day the journals just might be seen by the public when time is right and can be trusted with the knowledge contained in the journals. Many cultures decribe dragons in detail maybe just maybe dragons did once exist to be discovered... or have they already been discovered by scientists.... ?
, only time will reveal that answer... meanwhile I have a link for you all to look at [url=www.anzwers.org...url]



posted on Oct, 12 2005 @ 10:32 PM
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Originally posted by Jeremiah25
What do you think the link was between Da Vinci's lions or other cats and dragons?

I have been thinking about this lately... looking at the sphinx here and on mars.... how cats are genetically close to us.... worshipped in eqypt.... cats eyes almost look reptilian...
Back of the envelope thoughts...



posted on Oct, 24 2005 @ 03:06 PM
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Hey Gemwolf you mentioned that the has some relation to horses? i've been studying the jersey devil (i have thread debating a really crappy pic that i found lol
) and there have been mentions that he might be a modern dragon. he also has traits of a horse such as a horse head as well as hoofs.

there have been sightings describing him breathing fire which is interesting cause there have been alot of building burns in jersey. and even the native indians belived he was in fact called the land , Region of the dragon,. one last thing that picture that Da Vinci drew looks alot like descriptions i've read about jersey.

[edit on 24-10-2005 by yadrin847]



posted on Nov, 17 2005 @ 06:58 PM
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Hello! I'm a new member and have been looking at many of the forums in this cryptozoology forum. Ever since I was 5, I have been deeply interested in the paranormal. I have taken many classes regarding how to use "chi". There are three main forms of "chi", which are Art of the Third Eye (telephathic abilites), Chi-Gung (healing abilities), and Shaolin techiniques (Kung-Fu is a fighting style emphasizing chi). I have taken hundreds of classes of all three of these and I can assure you that it is real. Well, this is besides the point, I believe that Da Vinci's dragon portrait is eerily similar to the chinese dragons of paintings and art in China. I am actually chinese and have heard many myths and tails of dragons in China, some are violent and terrible, but others are peaceful and caring. Here is a comparison between Da Vinci's and a chinese Drawing:







By the way, if anybody is interested in starting a thread on Chi, I'll be happy to take part. ^^



posted on Nov, 18 2005 @ 03:05 AM
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Originally posted by TheBlueSoldier
Hello! I'm a new member and have been looking at many of the forums in this cryptozoology forum. Ever since I was 5, I have been deeply interested in the paranormal. I have taken many classes regarding how to use "chi". There are three main forms of "chi", which are Art of the Third Eye (telephathic abilites), Chi-Gung (healing abilities), and Shaolin techiniques (Kung-Fu is a fighting style emphasizing chi). I have taken hundreds of classes of all three of these and I can assure you that it is real. Well, this is besides the point, I believe that Da Vinci's dragon portrait is eerily similar to the chinese dragons of paintings and art in China. I am actually chinese and have heard many myths and tails of dragons in China, some are violent and terrible, but others are peaceful and caring. Here is a comparison between Da Vinci's and a chinese Drawing:
...
By the way, if anybody is interested in starting a thread on Chi, I'll be happy to take part. ^^


Hi, and warm welcome to the forum!

I agree with you. The particular dragon you used does resemble the Chinese representation of dragons. If you take a look at his other works (I see that some of the links are dead by now, but I'm sure you can find the others
) containing dragons, it seems that he sketched both types of dragons... The Chinese type and the European version. Some with wings, some without.
It would be interesting to know if Da Vinci ever visited China or have seen the Chinese dragons... From what I recall from Leonardo's history, he never visited China (I'm sure it would have been recorded in the history books), but that doesn't rule out the possibility that he saw Chinese art.
(Did people travel from Europe to China or vice versa in to days?)

I'm not sure how you fit "Chi" into this comparison? And why not start a thread on Chi yourself and start gaining those ATS store points?



posted on Nov, 18 2005 @ 04:47 AM
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GEMWOLF :

davinci only left italy once IIRC - his commision to attend the king of france at Amboise

howerver he would have had oportunity to study the works of marco polo and those who traced hos path to cathay

you would have to look up a good biography to be certain - buut for my money - " da vinci studied marco polo " makes far more sense than " va vinci traveled to cathay "



posted on Nov, 18 2005 @ 05:09 AM
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Originally posted by ignorant_ape
GEMWOLF :

davinci only left italy once IIRC - his commision to attend the king of france at Amboise

howerver he would have had oportunity to study the works of marco polo and those who traced hos path to cathay

you would have to look up a good biography to be certain - buut for my money - " da vinci studied marco polo " makes far more sense than " va vinci traveled to cathay "


Thanks for the info! That's how I have it as well. Da Vinci only travelled to where he was commissioned for work. And once or twice because of political reasons. I strongly doubt that he would have been commissioned to China for work. You can tell a lot about Da Vinci's history and travels by studying his sketch studies. None of them contains any reference to China or the Eastern parts. If he did in fact study Marco Polo's records, the question would be if Marco Polo's works did contain dragons and if Leonardo did study the works, why were he only interested in the dragon - the only indication that he might have studied Marco Polo?



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