Lamya

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A Lamya is a female water dragon in Bulgarian mythology.


Family

There are two kinds of female dragons: Khala and Lamya. There is a regional difference in distribution of Khala and Lamya tales, so in Eastern and Southwestern Bulgaria we usually find Lamya as an enemy of Zmej, while Khala appears in this role in Western Bulgaria. However, there are also important differences in description that show these female dragons to be separate entities.


Description

Khala and lamya are usually described three-headed beings with wings and a body of a snake. Lamya often has other animal features in addition to her dragonish form: she may have a dog’s head (or three), a tail of a snake which ends in a horn, four feet, scaly body and wings. She is often described as “the dog-lamya". Lamya is often connected to fog. Lamya can also assume the shape of a woman - an old woman (so in the fairytale “Three Brothers and a Golden Apple"), or a young one (so in “Sister Lamya").


Behavior

The female dragons are dangerous and usually hostile to man. Both kinds are enemies of the male dragon, and they are associated water, often in terms of natural disasters and bad weather. Khala and Lamya can bring hail and storms, and they have power over water reservoirs and lakes. Like the male dragon - Zmej, they can live high in the mountains, in caves, in forests and on tops of tall trees.


Beliefs

One of the most interesting aspects of Bulgarian dragon folklore is the division between the male and the female dragons. The female and the male are often viewed as sister and brother. Despite this, they are deadly opponents: the female dragons represent weather phenomena destructive to agriculture, while the male dragon protects the harvest and fights with his female counterparts. The opposition of water/fire is also important when considering the Dragon motifs: female and male dragons have both water and fire characteristics, but while the female is associated mainly with water, the male is viewed as a fiery creature.


See also