(POZOJ, AŽDAJA, (H)ALA, PLAZ, SMUK, UŽ, VILOZMAJ (fairy dragon), ZMAJ/ZMEJ/ZMIJ, ZMAJ GLEDOTVORNI)
In the dark of night or in winter, heavenly gods do not have such great powers as the divine creatures of the
underground. The gods of light, heavenly fire and earth vegetation go blind or shrink into dwarves. People
and their homes (because during the night or in winter people usually stay in their homes) are taken care of
by the dark gods, keepers of treasure, guards of the fireplace in the house. They have to be cajoled by
prayers and gifts. How did our ancestors imagine these deities?
The good ones and the bad ones were imagined to be fit oponents - strong, fast, clever and cunning. The
good ones were beautiful and just and the bad ones were ugly and sneaky. They all had animal
representatives. Animals which are the representatives of the good gods are usually those which live in
higher places and have fair hair or feathers or the ones that could be hunted and eaten. The representatives
of the bad gods were animals that crawl on the ground, live in hollows, caves and swamps, and have dark or
brown hair or feathers and beasts.
The oldest of all the dragons is ''sarkanj'' a winged snake, especially the kind that is nine years old. A
horrible three-, seven-, nine- or twelve-headed dragon is exceptionally strong, has large eyes of lightning
(with which he sleeps awake and is awake sleeping). He has a hard cockscomb and donkey''s ears on his head,
pointy teeth in a sharp beak from which a horrible smelly breath spreads. His body is green and similar to a
lizard''s and his blood is poisonous because he feeds on human flesh. The body changes colour when he is
flying. He has bear's paws, snake's tail and eagle or peacock's wings. (He spreads his wings on midsummer
day.) He awakes every night or every season and flies from the depths of the underground waters high up in
A legend from the Middle Ages tells of a dragon from Čakovec whose head is under St. Nicholas' church and
the tail under the Old Citadel. That dragon could only be tamed by the black magic student, a lower young
god or the early spring sun deity that just restored its strength. He sells the dragon's skin in far away
places. The skin can be the source of warmth (because he is the guardian of fire) or the source of cold
(because he is the guardian of the underground water).
There is a tale of another dragon told by the inhabitants of the Croatian village Donji Vidovec. They
describe it differently. Sometimes it is the winged snake or lizard, sometimes the three-headed monster, or
a horse with three wings, a water bull, old black cock, wolf of fire or a winged fish. The inhabitants of
this northernmost part of Croatia tell that it comes to life in the ooze forming from a fish or a snake that
nobody has seen or from a seven-year-old cock. He makes rain and therefore is a fertility god. He guards the
cattle in stables and the fire in the fireplace and nourishes the family. In time he becomes the eater of
light, kidnapper of girls and nurses, murderer of children and young men, destroyer of the crops.
In Croatian, when the weather is bad, it is said that it is the dragon's weather. Sometimes witches ride on
the dragon instead on the broom. The secret of his strength is in the egg (the first water) which can be
found in a pidgeon which is in the rabbit which is in his body. It is possible that the name for the
Christian holiday Christmas Eve, called ''badnjak'' in Croatian and taken from the pre-Christian period, is
derived from the word ''budnja noć'', the night of disorder at the end or the bottom of a year. The yule log
(''badnjak'') should be burnt because a dragon lives in it and it should be set free in order to become the
night or winter deity.
With the arrival of spring it leaves the underground and flies up to the mountain, i.e. the Heaven. His fire
then becomes thunder and the dragon becomes the deity of heaven. It is good when the dragon remains
underground where he guards his treasure: fire and water, love, immortality. He can turn into these things
as well. Old Germanic peoples used to believe that a dragon can drop a bag full of presents through the
chimney, a story which reminds of the Santa Claus (St. Nicholas) and Father Christmas stories. When he is
bad, he can cause drought, earthquake, war, etc. The fight of the good and bad happens inside every
individual. This clash of the dual character is obvious in the belief that the dragon was perhaps, at first,
only the negative aspect of the sun. The positive aspect being the day or the sky sun (when it is high up in
the sky) and the negative aspect being the night or the earth sun (when it sets or weakens in the second
part of the year and when it was identified with the moon). The positive and the negative aspects were
represented as the sun conquering the dragon or as the dragon devouring the sun.