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Famous Iranian Dragons
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"Azhi Dahaka" | ©Joseph D. Greenwood
- Azhi Dahaka was a monstrous dragon and was said to have three heads, six eyes, and three pairs of fangs. He was sometimes regarded as a mythical king of Babylon. Originally, he killed cattle and men, but there are many diverse versions, one being the hero Feridun's encounter with the dragon. In time, Azhi Dahaka came to be seen as the embodiment of falsehood and the servant of Angra Mainyu, the principle of darkness.
Atar, the fire god, and the dragon engaged in a bloody battle that took place over land, sea and air. The fire god eventually caught and chained the dragon to a mountain. Azhi Dahaka was believed to be able to break free during the end of the world, but that would be the time the hero Keresaspa would finally vanquish the beast.
- Rustam and the dragon is a tale from a Shah-nama which originated in Persia around 1575.
A hero named Rustam and his horse, Rakhsh were on their way to the Mazanderan River to deliver the foolish King Kai Kaus of Persia from an army of demons. On the first night of their journey a lion appeared with the intent of eating Rustam. Rakhsh saved his master by killing the lion. When Rustam awoke and saw the lion's body he thanked Rakhsh for saving his life but told the horse to wake him up next time so as not to endanger the horse's life.
They had to cross a great stretch of desert and at day's end they came to a spring, quenched their thirst and went directly to sleep. That night the dragon who guarded the spring came out of hiding to kill the hero and his horse. Rakhsh woke his master who sprang up from his slumber and grabbed his sword. The dragon had slipped back into hiding and Rustam scolded his horse for waking him up for nothing. Again the dragon slurked out of its hiding place and again the horse woke his master, and again the dragon slipped back into hiding before Rustam saw it. This time he was really mad at his horse. The third time the dragon came out Rakhsh didn't know what to do, and it wasn't until the last second that he roused his master. Rustam sprang up furiously, but this time the dragon was too close to escape and Rustam slew it.