Friday, October 11, 2013

Dragons and Angels and Other Fanciful Creatures

Warsaw dragon
Downspout, Krakow castle.
 Long ago in Krakow, a dragon menaced the town, requiring the people to bring him sheep to eat. The people didn't like this, obviously. Knights couldn't defeat the dragon, but a shoemaker sewed up a sheep with a surprise inside: some type of pitch that exploded inside the dragon. And so the town was saved, and they put dragons on all kinds of things for decoration, and also sell cuddly stuffed toys that look sort of like Barney. In Warsaw, I also saw many downspouts in dragon form and shop signs with dragons.

Downspout, Wilanow Palace, Warsaw.
Old Warsaw shop sign
Krakow Castle
Closeup of previous dragons on Krakow castle.
Chinoiserie was evidently popular in Poland in the 18th
century, as it was in other parts of Europe.
So one also sees Chinese dragons.
Protector of Warsaw: an armed mermaid.
The Warsaw mermaid is another popular figure, with this statue in the Old City as the model for many other representations of mermaids. She originally lived in the Vistula river, bothering the fishermen, but was convinced to become the city's defender. Given how often Poland has lost wars, I wonder if they should have looked for a more effective fighter?

The official mermaid taxi logo in Warsaw tells you the cab is licensed.
Old City shop sign
Here's a sphinx from the garden at Wilanow Palace.
A change from dragons and mermaids.
Beautiful, fanciful angels decorate Maria's Church in Krakow. 
Maria's Church, Krakow
Wall decoration, Wilanow Palace
And at the farmers market: a different fanciful animal.

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