Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Eating the Dragon

51upa6Uj-OL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_I’m having lots of fun reading “Heroika – Dragon Eaters”, a massive, highly entertaining collection of fantasy stories edited by Janet Morris and published by Perseid Press.

I like very much the central concept of the anthology – collecting stories in which men (and sometimes gods) pit their strength, spirit and wits against the power of dragons.
This is a welcome return to stories in which the dragon was the adversary, an expression of power hostile (or alien) to our mindset and civilization.
After so many stories of good dragons portrayed as an endangered species1, it’s good to have the dragon back as the bad guy.

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Dragon bones

And talking about China and fossils… 50 cents per kg is the price of dinosaur bones used as medicine in central China.

I was researching Gustav Heinrich Ralph von Koenigswald, a German paleontologist that in the 1930s found a tooth belonging to a Gigantopithecus in an Hong Kong pharmacy, and I collected a few factoids about the practice of consuming “long gu” (“dragon bones”) for medical purposes – which is still is still going strong in China today.

Xu

The most common afflictions cured by boiling or grinding into powder the fossil bones are cramps and dizziness, but the list of possible applications is long and varied.

“… “dragon bones” are crushed to a fine powder, boiled, and mixed with other ingredients to make healing concoctions. According to an ancient Chinese medical text (dating back around 2000 years) pulverized fossils have been used to treat conditions ranging from diarrhea to epilepsy to “manic running about.” Some ancient “medical” conditions were mystical ailments. For example, dragon bone “mainly treats heart and abdominal demonic influx, spiritual miasma, and old ghosts.”

In 2007, the BBC revealed that one enterprising bone collector had found, dug out and sold about 8.000 kilos of old bones.
According to online sources, today, more than 100 tons of “dragon bones” are consumed each year in China and Southeast Asia.

All of which is great news not only for my Silk Road book (updates, updates!), but is also excellent fodder for stories.