St.George and the Dragon, ca.1750. Gold leaf and tempera on wood. 1962-11-1.
Blue-and-white globular dragon vase (Tianqiuping), Qing Dynasty, Jiaquing (1796-1820) or Daoguang (1820-1850) period. Porcelain with underglaze blue. Gift of 1908.1966-14-4

Comparing Dragons

Guiding Questions: St. George and the Dragon 

  1. Let’s take a moment to look at this painting, it is called St. George and the Dragon. 

  2. Visual Thinking Strategy:

    • What do you see in the artworks?

    • What do you see that makes you say so?

    • What else do you notice? 

  3. Have you found the dragon in the painting? How would you describe this dragon?

  4. This is a Greek dragon from the story of St. George and the Dragon. 

    • In the story, an evil dragon often emerged to eat people from Silene, a village close to the lake where the dragon lives. To prevent the dragon from causing too much damage, the king decided to have a lottery and sacrifice the chosen people to the dragon. The people of Silene lived in fear and were very frustrated about this situation. 

    • One day, Saint George, the knight carrying a long sharp spear, rode by and saw the dragon was about to eat the princess. He quickly drew out his spear and defeated the dragon. 

  5. What do you think of the story? 

  6. Let’s take a moment to think about dragons. Can you think of any dragons from books, movies, or tv shows?

  7. Try and picture it in your mind. What are some of the words you would use to describe dragons? 

  8. This dragon is part of Western culture. Western dragons are described as big, with wings, and breath fire. They are often represented as evil creatures defeated by knights. 

  9. Now, let’s take a look at the next image. The dragon from the second image is from a different culture.


Guiding Questions: Dragon Vase

  1. Visual Thinking Strategy:

    • What do you see in the artworks?

    • What do you see that makes you say so?

    • What else do you notice? 

  2. How is it different from the Greek dragon?

    • This is a Chinese dragon. Chinese dragons are often associated with water. They are represented as peaceful and kind animals. 

    • Many cultures in Asia, including Japan, China, and Korea, have dragons similar to this one. 

  3. Do you know Chinese dragons are made up of many different animals? What animals do you notice on the dragon?

    • This dragon has a snake’s body, scales of a fish, antlers of a deer, and claws of an eagle. 

  4. If you would like to learn more about the Chinese Dragon, here’s a book you could read.

    • The Water Dragon: A Chinese Legend by Li Jian