Tuesday, April 5, 2016

D is for a Dragon with only one head

Once again, I have talked about Süsü before, but I am doing it again. 

Süsü, the headcount-wise challenged dragon* is exiled from the Dragon Kingdom from being too soft-hearted, makes friends with a wandering Prince, and attempts to integrate into human society.
Süsü** a sárkány (Süsü the dragon) is a puppet-musical show (yup) and also a beloved series of children's books by Csukás István. The original series had 9 episodes and aired in 1977, while the sequel (Süsüke a sárkánygyerek / Little Süsü the Dragonchild) aired its 13 episodes in 2001.

* Dragons in Hungarian folklore usually have multiple heads (most commonly 7, or sometimes 3, 9, 11, etc.)
** "süsü" is also a word applied to people who are a little bit slow or simple, which Süsü certainly is

Süsü, a soft-hearted and one-headed dragon is exiled by his father the Dragon King for curing their enemy instead of defeating him. He likes wild pears, singing, and butterflies, and he mostly sings about wanting to be a rosebud so that butterflies (and people) would not be afraid of him. On his journey, he encounters a Good Prince looking for a quest. By this time, Süsü has inadvertently scared half the countryside to bits, and the King puts out a call offering a Princess and half the kingdom to whoever can defeat the dragon. Süsü and the Prince come up with a plan: They will fake a fight which Süsü will win, thus winning a wife and a home. The Prince teaches Süsü etiquette, such as proper greetings for knights:

Üdvözöllek dicső lovag,
Szép a ruhád, szép a lovad!

Noble knight, you I greet,
Your garb is grand and so is your steed!

And ladies:

Szép vagy mint a rózsaszál, ó, te kedves királylány!
You are beautiful like a rose, oh, dear Princess!

(These are things most people can still quote)

Except, well, people are still terrified of Süsü, the fight doesn't go very well, the Princess throws a hissy fit, and eventually everything comes to light: The Dragon is not evil, the Princess marries the Prince, and people decide to allow Süsü to live among them anyway.

The following episodes chronicle Süsü's adventures among humans. He becomes best friends with the Prince's child (conveniently named Little Prince), gets into all kinds of trouble, and occasionally saves the kingdom; eventually, he even finds a girl-dragon to marry, one that only has one head too, and similarly loves butterflies. The new series goes on to tell about the adventures of their child, Süsüke (Little Süsü).

One of the quotable moments (and iconic figures) of the show is the Dragon Grass Peddler (Sárkányfűárus) who sells "dragon grass" to people, swearing up and down it keeps them safe from dragons. His business motto is "Sárkány ellen sárkányfű!" ("Dragon grass against dragons!"). Of course the hustle comes to a short end when the Prince shows up with Süsü, and suddenly the Peddler is not showing all that much loyalty to his own product, as a real life dragon scares the daylights out of him.

Here is the intro of the show (summarizing Süsü's journey), one of the most beloved sing-alongs of Hungarian kids in my generation. I still know all the words to it...
(Episodes are also available here, but only in Hungarian)


  1. This sounds adorable - I can understand why it is a favourite. I've never thought of a dragon being cranially challenged before.
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  2. I love this, I'm used to my dragons with one head :) Growing up in Wales, in the UK, we had Idris the dragon who was hatched in Ivor the Engine's fire (Ivor was a steam train). I think this started my fascination with dragons along with moving to a country that has a dragon on it's flag... actually how cool is that?

    Mars xx
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  3. So did other stories have dragons with many heads or was this just for this show and he was one of the few with only one head?

    ~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
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    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

    1. Most Hungarian folktales have dragons with multiple heads. All of them, really. Which is why Süsü stood out as odd. :)

  4. Who doesn;t like a soft cuddly dragon? I know I do.

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  5. oh, wow! it looks to cute! but that much cuteness terrifys me.

    it sort of reminds me of when Mr. Rogers went to that puppet theater he had.

  6. Kinda sounds like Ollie from Kukla, Fran and Ollie.

  7. I like the concept of a "simple" dragon.

  8. I favorite Dragon was the one in the "My Father's Dragon" series for children. Finding Eliza

  9. I like how the dragon didn't give up and found away to make life for himself according to what he believe, I think this is a good lesson for children. As for the Dragon Grass Peddler, weeell let's just say he got what he deserved hehehe

  10. How fun! And puppets are awesome!

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  11. I feel robbed that I have not been able to see this on my tv. :)
    Jemima Pett