Hey everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying this month’s challenges. They’re much harder than they were last round, but if you get stuck on anything or need some inspiration, just ask! Team Mythology is full of helpful folks. Now, on to the purpose of this blog post!
One thing that I wanted to do with the blog is an “Obscure Mythical Creature” series, where I would talk about creatures that aren’t well known. My first creature isn’t an obscure species, and is instead more an obscure character from folklore.
Bida is a dragon from West Africa, and appears in the Epic of the Dausa. The story starts with a dying king, who wants to tell his son, Lagarre, the secrets of kingship. The first secret is nine jars of water. Whoever washes in those jars will be rich and obeyed by all. The other secret was the royal drum, Tabele. It resided in heaven, and Lagarre had to fetch it, and strike the drum in the desert.
A vulture helped the prince get the drum, and when Lagarre struck it, a beautiful city rose up from the desert. The city was called Wagadu, and circling around it was the dragon Bida. Bida was “seven coils long”, like a giant serpent, and he wouldn’t let Lagarre into the city unless they struck a deal. Lagarre had to promise to give Bida a girl every year, and in exchange Lagarre would be let into the city. Lagarre accepted, and every year he was king he held a lottery to determine which family had to give up its daughter to the dragon. After eating the girl, Bida would fly over Wagadoo and spew gold into the streets.
This went on for three generations. The city was peaceful and prosperous, if a little devoid of females. When one girl was left to be eaten, her lover, Mamadi Sefe Dekote (of the Silent Sword), cut off Bida’s head. The head flew to the Gold Coast where, it’s said, gold is now plentiful.
The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures doesn’t say if Lagarre found those nine jars, but I think he did, and that part was just omitted from the story. Bida gave the people money (making Lagarre rich), and as it was a peaceful city, no one was rebelling against the king’s lottery (so Lagarre was obeyed by all).
Oh, and just as a fun little fact, I looked up the city Wagadu, and they didn’t keep the name long. The rulers were called Ghana, and that’s what the kingdom was called. This was Ancient Ghana, and is not the same as the modern day Ghana. Below is a map where you can see where Ancient Ghana, or Wagadu, was. I think that’s in modern day Mali.
It’s said that Bida is a symbol of greed, and how it spreads from person to person. So, what do you think? Is Bida a symbol for greed? Could Lagarre be a symbol too? Let me know what you all think!