Winged serpent Zilant was a symbol of wisdom, immortality and the power of the Kazan Tatars. Zilant decorated the seal of the Kazan Khan, and now the Black Dragon is depicted on the coat of arms of Kazan.
According to one of the legends, the lands, where the legendary founder of Kazan, Khan Ulu Mukhammed, established the city, had a lot of snakes. A particular large number of them lived on the hill, which later would be called Zilantova Mountain. People of the Khan waited until winter for the snakes to fall asleep, and then surrounded the hill with brushwood and set it on fire. But when all the snakes were killed, a huge dragon flew out of the hill and made all the arsonists retreat in fear. This was Zilant - the King of Serpents.
One legend says that Zilant had two heads, the second legend - that he had twelve heads, and the third - that Zilant was made up of small snakes and was holding his tail in his own mouth.
The legend tells a story of a batyr, who once tracked the serpent down and defeated him, but then was slashed by him into six parts. The other myth is built around the serpent, who was trying to track down the batyr. But both legends agree on one thing - in honor of the cleaved batyr, near the village of Churilino in the Arsk District, there is a ravine called Alty-Cutar, which means "six parts".
There is one more legend that says that the serpent was defeated by a magician Hakim, who let Zilant live in return for his promise to be the guardian of the city. Therefore, the image of Zilant, a crowned Black Serpent with golden legs and red wings, to this day adorns the coat of arms of Kazan. And the modern affinity to create a single myth sparked the following version of events: today, Zilant lives in the Kaban Lake, guarding the treasures of Suyumbike.
In the Western tradition, a dragon stands for a destructive and evil power. While in Eastern mythology, a dragon is associated with wisdom and power that bring life. In the legends of the ancient Bulgars, Dragon Zilant symbolized sharp mind and immortality: he decorated the coat of arms of Volga Bulgaria and was placed on the arms of soldiers, serving as a talisman in battles.
Zilant appeared on the state seal after Ivan the Terrible conquered Kazan in 1552. This was when the Monastery of the Holy Dormition was built - first, on the Bank of the Volga River, and in 1559, when the river flooded and destroyed the monastic walls, on top of that very mountain. That is why people call the monastery “Zilant Monastery”.
In 1781, the “black crowned dragon, scarlet wings and tail, golden beak and claws; scarlet tongue”, was placed on the coat of arms of the Kazan Province, and on the coat of arms of the Russian Empire.
Both before and after the adoption of the present coat of arms of Kazan in 2004, the debates about Zilant did not abate. But we have to remember that the Kazan Dragon is the living embodiment of the ancient traditions, combining a variety of qualities: speed, wisdom and strength. No other coat of arms bears such an extraordinary dragon.
All-Russia festival of fantasy and role-playing games that has been taking place in Kazan since 1991, is named after the Tatar Dragon - Zilantkon. The best fantasy writer of the year is awarded the statuette of Zilant handcrafted by Kazan masters.
A sculpture of Zilant can also be seen at the entrance of the Kremlin Metro station. It was installed there to honor the Millennium anniversary of Kazan.
Dragon Zilant is the symbol of sharp mind and wisdom, which combines the ability to fly, the power of a panther, and the immortality of a dragon. The image of a winged serpent decorated the shields of the ancient Bulgars and served as a talisman in battle.