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Zilant (Зилант)

Zilant is a legendary creature, something between a dragon and a wyvern. Since 1730, it has been the official symbol of Kazan. This winged snake is a part of Tatar and Russian folklore and is mentioned in legends about the foundation of Kazan.

 

Most legends related to Kazan are contradictory and Zilant is no exception. There are several variations on the Zilant legend.

 

According to one story, a beautiful damsel married a resident of Old Kazan. She had to get water from the Qazansu River and complained to the local khan his capital was poorly situated. She advised him to move the city to Zilantaw Hill, and the khan agreed. However, the hill was infested with numerous snakes which were "stout as a log". Their leader was a giant two-headed snake, i.e., Zilant. One head ate only grass, while the other swallowed virgins and youths. A wizard advised the khan to build a straw and wood near the hill. In spring, the snakes came out from their winter burrows and crept into the pile of straw. A knight errant was sent out to set the pile of straw on fire, burning out the snakes. They were deadly even in death, "killing people and horses with their stink". However, the gigantic two-headed snake-dragon escaped to the Qaban lakes. According to the story he still lives in the waters of the lake and, from time to time, takes vengeance on the citizens. According to other stories, the giant snake was transformed into Diü, a spirit who founded the underwater kingdom of the lake.

 

It is also said that say that Zilant did not escape to the lake but instead tried get revenge upon the knight, who by that time had ridden some 50 çaqrım away from Kazan. During the fight that followed, Zilant cut the hero into six parts. The knight, however, had managed to stab the dragon with his poisoned pike, and Zilant eventually died.

 

There is also a legend about Zilant's return to Zilantaw. They say that Zilant re-established himself in a big cave near the hill. The dragon would occasionally fly over the panic-stricken city and drink water from the Black Lake. At first the people of the city people paid tribute to him, but later they managed to kill him with a wizard's help.

 

HDR from three shots, AEB -2, 0 +2, Canon EOS 500D, EF-S10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM. Processed with Photomatix Pro 3.2 and Photoshop Elements 7.0.

 

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Taken on June 11, 2010