INESSA KALABEKOVA

Earliest depictions of dragons

Ever wondered why we, as humans, must eventually face mortality? It’s a question that’s fascinated us for ages, dating back to our distant ancestors who emerged from Africa 70,000 years ago. 

 In countless legends, snakes hold the secret to eternal life through their mesmerizing ability to shed their skin.  Take the tale of Gilgamesh, one of the oldest stories known to humanity. Gilgamesh, in his quest for immortality, encounters a serpent that foils his chance to taste the flower of eternal youth.    Even the earliest depictions of dragons resemble serpents, emphasizing the profound connection between these creatures and the enduring myths of snakes.    Around the world, this age-old symbol takes on different forms. Sometimes it’s not just snakes but also lizards, shrimps, or even trees, symbolizing rejuvenation and everlasting life.    Consider the Atayal people’s myth in Taiwan, where humans were offered the gift of shedding skin like myrtle changing its bark, promising eternal youth. They declined, and mortality became our shared fate.    The ouroboros, a serpent devouring its own tail, embodies timeless concepts like eternity and the cyclical nature of life. It’s woven into our history through religion, magic, alchemy, mythology, and psychology.    In essence, the image of the snake biting its tail transcends cultures and eras, evolving from a protective emblem to a profound representation of eternity and interconnectedness.

 

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