National History Museum displays unique tablet from 19 c.

Photo: BTA

The National History Museum in Sofia has displayed a unique stone tablet from 19 c. depicting a seven-headed dragon with crowns. The tablet used to be part of the interior decoration of the church St. Athanasius in the village of Belopolyane in the region of Ivaylovgrad. The church was built in 1838 and is a remarkable sample of the National Revival architecture from the first half of 19 c.

For the time being there are two hypothesеs about the symbolism of the tablet. One of them is related to the biblical notion of Satan imagined as a seven-headed dragon with seven horns – the personification of evil and the dark forces. The other hypothesis has certain archeological analogues in the region of Ivaylovgrad. In 2014,in the Marble Town as the medieval stronghold of Lyutitsa is also known, a bronze spur with gilding and glass paste was found on which seven dragon heads are depicted. The spur was part of the military equipment of a horseman who took part in attacks of the Latins against Lyutitsa at the end of 13 c. In the ruins of Lyutitsastronghold silver Latin coins have been found. In the hagiology of that time the Latins were likened to Satan. In this way the image of the seven-headed dragon remained in the folklore of Thrace wearing crowns devoted to the seven Latin emperors crowned in Constantinople who caused colossal damage to the Balkans. Children are introduced to the theme of the dragon in folklore and to its symbolism during lessons at the Children’s Educational Center ofthe National History Museum.

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