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Celtic lore is full of tales about dragons, often in the form of giant water serpents. The water snake is an emblem of life-bringing waters from its waving motion, and the Celtic Dragon may share this symbolism. In early medieval times the Celtic water serpent was given legs, like the dragons of Babylon, and gradually became hard to tell from cat or dog. The dragon resurfaced in Celtic art after the Vikings, and was often represented as a feline beast with long ears and sinuous curves, which alone betray its ultimately - Chinese origin. This dragon is the oldest form of the Chinese dragon, adapted to Celtic style.
I explore the origins of the dragon in Celtic art more fully in Celtic Design: The Dragon and the Griffin, (Thames & Hudson, London, 1995).
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