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Žiri's Lintvern

Have you ever heard of a mythological Lintvern – a water dragon? Ljubljana, Celovec and probably some other place also have one of their own, a more famous one. However, the Žiri water dragon claims to be special: “My kingdom is horrible. Huh! I am the last Lintvern of Slovenian descent.” These are boastful words of the Žiri dragon that cursed and trapped deep under the Žirk hill awaits the moment when he will be able to rise to the surface and terrorize the valiant Žiri people. He is special because he is one of the last ones still alive and because he is of Slovenian descent. A true patriotic monster! As such, he is presented in the youth singspiel Magnificent Alpine Carnation, written in the autumn 1952 by Darina Konc, then professor at the lower grammar school in Žiri. “More than thousand years ago, an enormous dragon named Lintvern came under our mountain. Every night and every morning, we hear him drinking water from the underground lake while he is waiting for an earthquake to make a roof hole he can escape through, flood the valley, and devour the last most beautiful girl. This will be his way to avenge himself on those who justly condemned him to life in the black underground world.” His malice lead him to the underground. He used to be a man, but he was bad to other people. He had a dragon's heart, dragon's hands, his eyes were green like snakes, his tongue venomous. The man who became Lintvern was rich, immensely rich. Somewhere on the Žirk hill, he had a castle. How did he become a dragon then? According to the fairy tale, he didn’t; he had already been a dragon, and during an earthquake on one black, stormy night, he sank into a chasm on the Žirk hill under the weight of his own malice. There he still lurks and ceaselessly waits on his moment to arrive. This is what the fairy tale tells. When the old Žiri people walked around the Žirk hill, in some places, they could hear the roaring from the depths and see streams of water erupt from the ground. They attributed this phenomena to Lintvern. A modern scholar would reject this imaginary thinking and present a scientific explanation: listen, there is no secret down below, these are simply ordinary karst phenomena. A psychoanalyst might say that through the image of Lintvern and hope that he would once be defeated the Žiri people projected their fears of the rigours of the weather which in the past centuries so frequently and fatally ravaged across the valley. In recent decades, with the regulation of certain watercourses these water devastations were minimized.

The Municipality of Žiri made Lintvern a special honorable citizen – they put him on the city’s coat of arms, next to beech nut (“žir”), after which the Lintvern’s hill Žirk and the city of Žiri are named ... Lintvern is also a character in Žiri Tales (2012) that were edited for contemporary readers by Olga Vončina.