Thursday, January 9, 2014


A pair of gold pillow ends, decorated with two dragons and worked in relief with chased detail and openwork. Gold, rubies, turquoise and other precious and semi-precious stones, Beijing or Nanjing, Xuande era, 1426-1435. © The Trustees of the British Museum.

This caught my eye this morning two elegant Chinese dragons, we had watched the video of The Hobbit a couple of nights ago, and Smaug the great and terrifying dragon had appeared, one golden amber eye peering from the great golden hoard he had amassed.  It reminded me of Tolkien's poem 'The Hoard',
To his belly's slime gems stuck thick,
silver gold he would snuff and lick:
he knew the place of the least ring
Beneath the shadow of his black wing.

I have loved the tales of the Lord of the Rings, nobility and beautiful New Zealand scenery all rolled into one in these films. I was first introduced to the books in the 60s, and have read them several times since.  Writing about dragons I have done before, the great fighting dragons of Wales, the dragon that graces the font of Avebury church.  We have spied them in medieval wall paintings, naively wrought and not as magnificent as Smaug but still dragons fighting St.George.
When you look at these films, you begin to see how Tolkien's mind worked this great tale of this other world was formed from the background of our English history.  The tree Ents are part of the great forests that covered this land, the churches with their dour warnings of hell and purgatory are echoed in the troll caves and the goblins deep fissured caves below the surface.  Castles stand high above the plains, in good defensive mode, and Elvin land is very mythological and beautiful a true fairy land of wonder, but then we know such things as fairies do not exist! The Shires are of course the old tranquil England of Victorian imagination, where it is always sunny and there is plenty of food on the table.  Not a bit like today, where I learn that The Trussell Trust has fed 500,000 thousand last year, people whose benefits had not come through or did not have enough money to buy food........


  1. A timely reminder here Thelma to those of us who enjoyed plentiful food at Christmas.
    I too am a Tolkien fan I never tire of his books.