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Friday, 16 May 2014

Asturian Dragons

Asturian Dragons 

According to the Asturian mythology, “cuélebre” is a dragon or winged serpent that watches fantastic treasures. It has a poisonous breath, whistles strongly, and lives in underground caves.

It is a dangerous dragon: it feds on people and animals, it has hard fins and never stops growing in size. When it ages, the cuélebre grows so much that it exceeds the capacity the land can hold. For this reason, it must fly to the Cuajada Sea, which is filled with treasures and cuélebres that take care of each other.


The legendary cuélebresresembles the dragons from Greek mythology. Those dragons used to watch golden apples at the garden of the Hesperides.

Also these dragons display bloodline relation with the ones found at the stories of Jason and the Argonauts.The Golden Fleece was protected by a frightful dragon that never slept.


Cuélebres left their “signs” in theAsturian geography. The tales ofcuélebres served to baptize different geographic regions from this Spanish community: the Cave of the Cuélebre, the Well of the Cuélebre, the Ramada of the Cuélebre, and the Braña de Valdecuélebre.

One of the most popular legends carried out by the Asturian dragons is the one about the “big cuélebre that terrorized the monastery of Santo Domingo”. The convent, located atOviedo, was knocked down by a serpent-dragon that fed on monks.

But one of the friars devised an effective strategy for their salvation: it left a bread filled with pins near the dragon’s lair and the cuélebre died immediately after eating it.

Other myths about cuélebres speak of flying dragons that, while migrating to the sea, their wings got stuck on tree branches. After many days being immobilized, they died of hunger.

The Asturian art has represented this mythological animal at the Oviedo Cathedral, the church of Santa Maria de Celón, San Emeterio de Sietes, among other buildings from the sixteenth century.

by Marisa E. Martínez Pérsico

Another story version
The Cuelebre

In a hut in an Asturian village lived a very beautiful maiden, who was vain and forever daydreaming. She spent hours and hours combing her long flowing hair by a spring, and there was nothing she loved more than to admire her beautiful reflection in the limpid water of the pool. In vain her mother and grandmother warned her:

'It is dangerous to comb your hair by the spring. Be careful, because if a hair falls and ruffles the surface of the water, the spirit of the spring will bewitch you.'

'Old wives tales,' cried the girl, 'there are no spirit in the fountain.' But the girl was very wrong. In the pool lived a very powerful spirit, one of those nymphs of the streams and mountains which abound in the Asturian mythology. The spirit watched angrily as the girl spent the whole day combing her hair, never helping to spin the wool or knead the dough. She had not been able to do a thing about it, as the girl did not ruffle the water of the pool, but patiently the nymph waited for her chance.

Then one day, one of the girl's golden hairs fell into the water and the nymph, dressed in a cloak of green water, rose angrily out of the pool.

'Didn't your mother warn you not to ruffle the water?' she asked, in a very quiet voice.

'A hair as beautiful as this does not ruffle the water', replied the proud maiden.

'I am going to bewitch you to punish you for your pride', the spirit said icily. Barefoot, her long golden hair adorned with pearls and a crown made from the reflection of the moon, she alighted on the grass next to the pool. Frowning, she declared:'I am turning you into a cuelebre. You will only turn back into a maiden if you meet a knight who is so brave that he is not afraid of you and has a heart so pure that he finds you beautiful.

At once the girl's body grew to an enormous size and became covered with coloured scales. her golden hair turned into crests and two wings sprouted from her shoulders. With a howl of despair, the cuelebre slunk off weeping, and hid in a cave by the sea.

As all the youths who set eyes on the cuelebre are afraid, the proud girl who was bewitched by the spirit still lives in her little cave on the sea shore, waiting for the knight who will find her beautiful, so that she can become a maiden once more.
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