Chinese Dragons: All About Stories And Legends
of reading - words
If there is one fantastic creature that fascinates and frightens men of all civilizations and eras, it is the dragon.
It is a giant flying reptile that spits fire and is found in many stories of yesterday and today.
However, it is important to distinguish between the Western and Eastern dragons.
If both are formidable, the European dragon is even more evil.
In Asia, and more particularly in China, dragons are part of popular culture and are an integral part of daily life. Whether you have decided to travel to China or are just curious, the dragon is one of the keys to understanding Chinese culture.
So I propose you to discover 5 formidable keys to know everything about the Chinese dragons.
1. The Dragon in Chinese Mythology
The dragon is present in many Chinese mythological stories.
As you probably know, the dragon sign is one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. He is even the most powerful of all.
Chinese astrology also tells stories of dragons. It is a divinatory art that relies on the study of stars and constellations to predict the work in the fields, or a traditional celebration for example.
The different interpretations following the observation of the stars allow us to imagine stories. They attribute to each district and year its animal, including the Dragon.
The very beginning of Chinese civilization was inspired by a dragon story, as told by the heroes Yuandi and Huangdi.
Since the Neolithic period, the dragon has been a sacred animal in China. Indeed, the different tribes that populated China made it their favorite totem pole.
Later, during antiquity, the dragon was the hero of the founding texts of Chinese culture. For example, in the Huainan Zi, an encyclopedia written in the 2nd century BC, two dragons clash:
one caused a flood by breaking one of the pillars of the earth,
the other fights it and tries to stop the floods and restore the balance on earth.
Some versions of this story, particularly in Shi Yi Ji, a set of Chinese mythological accounts, mention the great Yu ruler. He was the very first legendary Chinese emperor, founder of the Xia dynasty. In the story of the flood, he is the one who restores the order of things by being helped by a dragon.
So now you understand how the dragon became the symbol of the emperors of China.
2. Recognizing a Chinese Dragon
You will quickly notice that the Chinese dragon is not represented in the same way as in Europe.
The main difference is that the Chinese dragon has no wings and yet it has the ability to fly thanks to its crest, as mentioned in various stories.
The Chinese dragon has the particularity of possessing the attributes of different animals such as the scales of the carp, the legs of the tiger, the nose of the dog... According to some sources, this would come from a tribal chief whose totem animal was a dragon. Every time he won a victory over another tribe, he added their totem animal to his.
The body of the Chinese dragon is very long, like that of a snake wrapped around itself. The snake neck is also quite similar to that of a dragon.
Most of the time, the Chinese dragon is depicted playing with a pearl of fire. It is placed under his chin or in his throat. It is a very important element that gives him his power.
Finally, it is important to pay attention to the number of claws of a dragon! The more claws it has, the more it means that the dragon is powerful.
Indeed, dragons with five claws per leg are only those linked to Chinese emperors.
If you only see four, then it is either a Vietnamese, Korean, Indonesian or even a Chinese dragon but which is not related to the Chinese emperor, but to one of his vassals.
If he only has three claws per leg, then he's a Japanese dragon.
Yes, the Asian dragon loses or gains claws depending on where he lives!
Some Chinese dragons may even have demon eyes.
3. Differentiate between types of dragons
In general, the Chinese dragon is represented according to the indications specified above. However, it is important to distinguish between the different types of Chinese dragons. The Chinese word for dragon is "Long".
To distinguish them, its specificity is added to the word "Long".
Each dragon has its role:
- The celestial dragon (Tianlong) is the guardian of the palaces of the gods.
- The spiritual dragon (Shenlong) controls the weather in a beneficial or evil way. We already had the opportunity to talk about this Dragon in the article on the 7 dragons that marked the cartoons. Indeed, Shenlong inspired Dragon Ball's famous dragon Shenron.
- We continue: the land dragon (Silong) takes care of the water bodies.
- Fu-Zang Long keeps the world's treasures.
- Longwang is the dragon king. This one would have 9 sons. Each one has its own particularity.
- For example, Bixi looks like a turtle, he decorates the graves.
- Bi'an is a tough guy, he's represented on prison doors.
- As for Pulao, it is a whiner who is present on the bells.
If you are lost, don't worry, by becoming familiar with the universe you will quickly learn to differentiate them!
4. Deciphering the symbolism of the Chinese dragon
In the Chinese dragon everything is symbolic: its name, its color, its shapes, the number of its claws, its toes and even its scales...
So you'll have to pay attention to the details to know what kind of dragon you're dealing with (in case you're confronted with it, you never know!).
In general, the dragon symbolizes power and wisdom.
Each emperor was considered the son of a dragon and wore clothes adorned with dragons. This privilege was exclusively reserved for them.
It should be noted that unlike the European dragon, the Chinese dragon has a very positive aura. It symbolizes luck. The Chinese dragon is also associated with water, from a symbolic point of view, because it resides in seas, lakes, rivers....
As far as his appearance is concerned, everything is also very significant. The number 9, a figure of very good omen in China, is very present: the dragon is composed of elements of 9 animals, it has 117 scales including 81 male (9x9) and 36 female (9x4) scales...
Colours are also important. For example, the dragon's blood is red and yellow to recall the dominant colours of the sky and the earth...
5. The Dragon in the life of the Chinese
I reassure you, even if the dragons are nicer in China (it seems it), you will not really meet any during a stay in this wonderful country.
In fact, even if you came across a dragon's egg (by chance), according to legend, you would have to wait 1000 years for it to hatch. And another 1000 years to see him reach adulthood.
However, I can guarantee you that you will meet some throughout your journey. Indeed, dragons are everywhere in China. Whether in decorations, dances or even in language.
Be careful, however, do not confuse the Lion dance with the Dragon dance, which are two extremely popular dances in China.
The Chinese love the dragon and all its symbolism. While walking in the Forbidden City in Beijing, you will be able to admire the different representations of dragons on the roofs, floors, walls, throne... Try to recognize the 9 sons of the dragon in the ornaments! Dragons are also very present on the old ornaments or costumes of the actors at the opera.
Now that you are an expert, you can easily recognize the type and symbolism of the dragon shown!
6. Amplify your passion for Chinese Dragons
In this article, you have discovered 5 keys to know everything about Chinese dragons and to immerse yourself in this magical universe. As you can see, the Chinese dragons are nicer than the European winged dragons, which are formidable.
In China, the dragon is a symbol of luck, power and wisdom.
Be careful, however, whoever rubs against it gets stung. Some Chinese dragons are terrible creatures.
In any case, the Chinese have loved them for thousands of years. Dragons are present all over China: in stories, expressions, ornaments, ornaments, ornaments, signs of the zodiac, opera, parades, precious metals...
Soak up the fabulous universe of the Chinese dragons to appreciate even more the relics of the Chinese dragons that are on the Dragonyz website: in the form of t-shirts, sweaters, rings, paintings and many other forms...