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Chinese Dragon

Friday, December 11, 2009

Chinese Dragon Culture

Dragons are deeply rooted in the Chinese culture. The Chinese often consider themselves, 'the descendants of the dragon.'

Nobody really knows where the dragon comes from. The dragon looks like a combination of many animals. For the Chinese people, Dragons were described visually as a composite of parts from nine animals: The horns of a deer; the head of a camel; the eyes of a devil; the neck of a snake; the abdomen of a large cockle; the scales of a carp; the claws of an eagle; the paws of a tiger; and the ears of an ox. The Chinese word for Dragon is spelled out in roman characters as either lung or long. In China, the Dragon was credited with having great powers that allowed them to make rain and to control floods (by striking the river with its tail, causing it to open and thus divert the floodwaters) also Dragons are credited for transportation of humans to the celestial realms after death. Also, in China, Dragons are symbols of the natural world, adaptability, and transformation. When two dragons are placed together but turned away, they symbolize eternity via the famous Yin-Yang.
Chinese emperors think they are the real dragons and the sons of heaven. Thus the beds they sleep on are called the dragon beds, the throne called the dragon seat, and the emperor's ceremonial dresses called the dragon robes.

In the minds of the early Chinese people, the dragon was a god that embodied the will and ideals of the Chinese people. It is said that the dragon is a large-scaled reptile, which can become dark or bright, large or small, long or short, and can fly into the sky in the spring and live under the water in the fall. It seems that the dragon is capable of doing almost anything.Traditionally the dragons are considered as the governors of rainfalls in Chinese culture. They have the power to decide where and when to have rain. They believe the kings of the water dragons live in the dragon palaces under the oceans. The Chinese sign for the dragon appears during the Yin and Shang dynasties (from the 16th to the 11th century BC, the period of the earliest Chinese hieroglyphs), between inscriptions on bones and turtle shields. These inscriptions depicted a horned reptile, teeth, scales and sometimes paws as well.

In ancient China nobody had any doubts about the existence of dragons. People showed great respect for any dragon depicted in pictures, carvings and writings, and as a result the dragon became the symbol of Chinese nation. All people in china, including the emperor, prostrated themselves before the image of a dragon with reverence and awe. As a result, this unreal animal became the spiritual sustenance for a nation: firstly, as the totem of a tribe and then as the symbol of the nation. Eventually it became the sign on the national flag of the last feudal dynasty, the Qing Dynasty. The chinese people regard themselves as descendants of the dragon.

Chinese Dragon Origin and History

The origin of the Chinese dragon is not certain, but many scholars agree that it originated from totems of different tribes in China. Some have suggested that it comes from a stylized depiction of existing animals, such as snakes, fish, or crocodiles. For example, the Banpo site of the Yangshao culture in Shaanxi featured an elongated, snake-like fish motif. Archaeologists believe the "long fish" to have evolved into images of the Chinese dragon. The association with fish is reflected in the legend of a carp that saw the top of a mountain and decided he was going to reach it. He swam upstream, climbing rapids and waterfalls letting nothing get in the way of his determination. When he reached the top there was the mythical "Dragon Gate" and when he jumped over he became a dragon. Several waterfalls and cataracts in China are believed to be the location of the Dragon Gate. This legend is used as an allegory for the drive and effort needed to overcome obstacles and achieve success.
An alternative view, advocated by He Xin, is that the early dragon depicted a species of crocodile. Specifically, Crocodylus porosus, an ancient, giant crocodile. The crocodile is known to be able to accurately sense changes in air pressure, and be able to sense coming rain. This may have been the origin of the dragon's mythical attributes in controlling the weather, especially the rain. In addition, there is evidence of crocodile worship in ancient Babylonian, Indian, and Mayan civilizations. The association with the crocodile is also supported by the view in ancient times that large crocodiles are a variety of dragon. For example, in the Story of Zhou Chu, about the life of a Jin Dynasty warrior, he is said to have killed a "dragon" that infested the waters of his home village, which appears to have been a crocodile.
Others have proposed that its shape is the merger of totems of various tribes as the result of the merger of tribes. The coiled snake or dragon form played an important role in early Chinese culture. Legendary figures like Nüwa (女媧), Fuxi (伏羲) are depicted as having snake bodies. Some scholars report that the first legendary Emperor of China Huang Di (黃帝,Yellow Emperor) used a snake for his coat of arms. Every time he conquered another tribe, he incorporated his defeated enemy's emblem into his own. That explains why the dragon appears to have features of various animals.
There is no apparent connection to the western dragon.

Dragons are deeply rooted in Chinese culture, you can find dragon figures in pictures, carvings, writing, almost everywhere. Nobody really knows where the dragon comes from. The dragon looks like a combination of many animals, such as a reptile, a snake, an alligator, and a lizard. Or it may be just a product from the imagination of Chinese people.

wikipediaThis article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Chinese dragon".

The dragon as mythical creature

From its origins as totems or the stylized depiction of natural creatures, the Chinese dragon evolved to become a mythical animal. By the Han Dynasty, 206 BC - AD 220, the scholar Wang Fu recorded the anatomy of the Chinese dragon in extensive detail. The dragon's appearance is described as having the trunk of a snake; the scales of a carp ; the tail of a whale; the antlers of a stag; the face of a camel; the talons of eagles; the ears of a bull; the feet of a tiger and the eyes of a (dragon)lobster.
Chinese dragons are physically concise. Of the 117 scales, 81 are of the yang essence (positive) while 36 are of the yin essence (negative). This malevolent influence accounts for their destructive and aggressive side. Just as water destroys, so can the dragons in the form of floods, tidal waves and storms. Some of the worst floods were believed to have been the result of a mortal upsetting a dragon.
Many pictures of oriental dragons show a flaming pearl under their chin. The pearl is associated with wealth, good luck, and prosperity.
Chinese dragons are occasionally depicted with bat-like wings growing out of the front limbs, but most do not have wings, as their ability to fly (and control rain/water, etc.) are mythical and not seen as a result of their physical attributes.
This description accords with the artistic depictions of the dragon down to the present day. The dragon has also acquired an almost unlimited range of supernatural powers. It is said to be able to disguise itself as a silkworm, or become as large as our entire universe. It can fly among the clouds or hide in water (according to the Guanzi). It can form clouds, can turn into water or fire, can become invisible or glow in the dark (according to the Shuowen Jiezi).
Chinese dragon

wikipediaThis article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Chinese dragon".

The dragon as symbol of imperial authority

At the end of his reign, the first legendary Emperor Huang Di was said to have been immortalized into a dragon that resembled his emblem, and ascended to Heaven. Since the Chinese consider Huang Di as their ancestor, they sometimes refer to themselves as "the descendants of the dragon". This legend also contributed towards the use of the Chinese dragon as a symbol of imperial power.
The dragon, especially yellow or golden dragons with five claws on each foot, was a symbol for the emperor in many Chinese dynasties. The imperial throne was called the Dragon Throne. During the late Qing Dynasty, the dragon was even adopted as the national flag. It was a capital offense for commoners to wear clothes with a dragon symbol. The dragon is featured in the carvings on the steps of imperial palaces and tombs, such as the Forbidden City in Beijing.
In some Chinese legends, an Emperor might be born with a birthmark in the shape of a dragon. For example, one legend tells the tale of a peasant born with a dragon birthmark who eventually overthrows the existing dynasty and founds a new one; another legend might tell of the prince in hiding from his enemies who is identified by his dragon birthmark.
In contrast, the Empress of China was often identified with the Phoenix Fenghuang.
An imperial robe from the Qing Dynasty
imperial dragon seal from Qing Dynasty
An imperial robe from the Qing Dynasty (image from uniformchina.com)
imperial dragon seal from Qing Dynasty
An imperial dragon chair from the Qing Dynasty
An imperial dragon statue from the Qing Dynasty
An imperial dragon chair from the Qing Dynasty
An imperial dragon statue from the Qing Dynasty

wikipediaThis article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Chinese dragon". 

The dragon as ruler of weather and water

Chinese dragons are strongly associated with water in popular belief. They are believed to be the rulers of moving bodies of water, such as waterfalls, rivers, or seas. They can show themselves as water spouts (tornado or twister over water). In this capacity as the rulers of water and weather, the dragon is more anthropomorphic in form, often depicted as a humanoid, dressed in a king's costume, but with a dragon head wearing a king's headdress.
There are four major Dragon Kings, representing each of the four seas: the East Sea (corresponding to the East China Sea), the South Sea (corresponding to the South China Sea), the West Sea (sometimes seen as the Indian Ocean and beyond), and the North Sea (sometimes seen as Lake Baikal).
Because of this association, they are seen as "in charge" of water-related weather phenomenon. In premodern times, many Chinese villages (especially those close to rivers and seas) had temples dedicated to their local "dragon king". In times of drought or flooding, it was customary for the local gentry and government officials to lead the community in offering sacrifices and conducting other religious rites to appease the dragon, either to ask for rain or a cessation thereof.
The King of Wu-Yue in the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period was often known as the "Dragon King" or the "Sea Dragon King" because of his extensive hydro-engineering schemes which "tamed" the seas.
one traditonal Chinese dragon painting
one traditonal Chinese dragon painting

wikipediaThis article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Chinese dragon". 

Depictions of the dragon

Neolithic depictions

Dragons or dragon-like depictions have been found extensively in neolithic-period archaeological sites throughout China. The earliest depiction of dragons was found at Xinglongwa culture sites. Yangshao culture sites in Xi'an have produced clay pots with dragon motifs. The Liangzhu culture also produced dragon-like patterns. The Hongshan culture sites in present-day Inner Mongolia produced jade dragon amulets in the form of pig dragons.

One such early form was the pig dragon. It is a coiled, elongated creature with a head resembling a boar[3]. The character for "dragon" in the earliest Chinese writing has a similar coiled form, as do later jade dragon amulets from the Shang period.
Classical depictions
There are "Nine Classical Types" of dragons as depicted in Chinese art and literature, nine being an auspicious number in Chinese culture.

Chinese scholars categorized the dragons according to their cosmic tasks. These are:
Tianlong (天龍, tiān lóng: literally "heaven dragon"), The Celestial Dragon - the ruler of the dragons.
Shenlong (神龍, shén lóng: literally "spirit dragon"), The Spiritual Dragon - controls the weather and had to be appeased, or weather conditions would turn disastrous.
Fucanglong (伏藏龍), The Dragon of Hidden Treasures - the guardian of precious metals and jewels buried in the earth.
Dilong (地龍), The Earth Dragon - controls rivers. It spends springtime in heaven and autumn in the sea.
Yinglong (應龍), The Winged Dragon - believed to be a powerful servant of Huang Di, the yellow emperor, later immortalized as a dragon.
Jiaolong (虯龍), The Horned Dragon - considered to be the mightiest.
Panlong (蟠龍), The Coiling Dragon - dwells in the lakes of the Orient.
Huanglong (黃龍), Yellow Dragon - a hornless dragon known for its scholarly knowledge.
The Dragon King (龍王) - each rules over one of the four seas, those of the east, south, west, and north.

Besides these, there are Nine Dragon Children, which feature prominently in architectural and monumental decorations:

The first son is called bixi (贔屭 pinyin: bìxì), which looks like a giant tortoise and is good at carrying weight. It is oftenfound as the carved stone base of monumental tablets.

The second son is called chiwen (螭吻 pinyin chǐwěn), which looks like a beast and likes to see very far. It is always found on the roof.

The third son is called pulao (蒲牢 pinyin pǔláo), which looks like a small dragon, and likes to roar. Thus it is always found on bells.

The fourth son is called bi'an (狴犴 pinyin bì'àn), which looks like a tiger, and is powerful. It is often found on prison doors tofrighten the prisoners.

The fifth son is called taotie (饕餮 pinyin tāotiè), which loves to eat and is found on food-related wares.

The sixth son is called baxia (蚣蝮 pinyin gōngfù or bāxià), which likes to be in water, and is found on bridges.

The seventh son is called yazi (睚眥 pinyin yázī), which likes to kill, and is found on swords and knives.

The eighth son is called suanni (狻猊 pinyin suānní), which looks like a lion and likes smoke as well as having an affinity for fireworks. It is usually found on incense burners.

The youngest is called jiaotu (椒圖 pinyin jiāotú), which looks like a conch or clam and does not like to be disturbed. It is used on the front door or the doorstep.

There are two other (inferior) dragon species, the jiao and the li, both hornless. The jiao is sometimes said to be female dragons.

The word is also used to refer to crocodiles and other large reptiles. The li is said to be a yellow version of the jiao. Whereas the dragon is mostly seen as auscpicious or holy, the jiao and the li are often depicted as evil or malicious.

An imperial robe from the Qing Dynasty
imperial dragon seal from Qing Dynasty
bixi (贔屭 pinyin: bìxì)
chiwen (螭吻 pinyin chǐwěn)
An imperial dragon chair from the Qing Dynasty
An imperial dragon statue from the Qing Dynasty
bi'an (狴犴 pinyin bì'àn)
taotie (饕餮 pinyin tāotiè)
An imperial dragon chair from the Qing Dynasty
An imperial dragon statue from the Qing Dynasty
baxia (蚣蝮 pinyin gōngfù or bāxià)
yazi (睚眥 pinyin yázī)
An imperial dragon statue from the Qing Dynasty
An imperial dragon statue from the Qing Dynasty
suanni (狻猊 pinyin suānní)
jiaotu (椒圖 pinyin jiāotú)

pulao (蒲牢 pinyin pǔláo)
Dragon toes
The Chinese dragons have five toes on each foot, Indonesian or Korean dragons have four, and the Japanese dragons have three. To explain this phenomenon, Chinese legend states that all Imperial dragons originated in China, and the further away from China a dragon went the fewer toes it had. Dragons only exist in China, Korea, Indonesia, and Japan because if they traveled further they would have no toes to continue. The Japanese legend has a story similar to the Chinese one, namely that dragons originated in Japan, and the further they traveled the more toes they grew and as a result, if they went too far they would have too many toes to continue to walk properly.

Official interpretation back in the dynasty period: Five claws dragons are reserved for the emperors (five is the holy number in Five elements (Chinese philosophy), four claws dragon is reserved for kings, princes and certain high rank officials, three claws dragon are used by the general public (which is widely seen on China and other Chinese goods back in Ming dynasty). Since Korea and other nations only held the title of king (with respect to the emperor in china), they are only allowed to use four claw dragon.
Inproper use of claw number is considered as a sign of rebellion, and will be punished heavily such as executions of whole clan.
Another interpretation: according to several sources, including historical official documents, ordinary Chinese dragons had four toes - but the Imperial Dragon had five. It was a capital offense for anyone - other than the emperor, his blood relatives, and the very few officials who were granted such an extraordinary privilege by the emperor - to use the five-clawed dragon motif.
Korean sources seem to oppose this theory, as the Imperial dragon in Gyeongbok Palace has seven claws, implying its superiority over the inferior Chinese Dragon; of course, this dragon image is hidden in the rafters of the palace and is not entirely in view, even to those who know it is there, suggesting that while the ancient Koreans viewed it as superior, they also knew that it would be offensive to the Imperial Chinese Court.
The Han style dragon is also 3 clawed, which explains how the 3 clawed dragon went to Japan in the Tang or pre-Tang period.
wikipediaThis article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Chinese dragon".

Chinese dragon Cliparts

Chinese dragon clipart
Chinese dragon clipart
Chinese dragon clipart

Chinese dragon clipart
Chinese dragon clipart
Chinese dragon clipart

Chinese dragon clipart
Chinese dragon clipart
Chinese dragon clipart


Chinese dragon clipart
Chinese dragon clipart
Chinese dragon clipart

 Chinese dragon clipart   Chinese dragon clipart   Chinese dragon clipart  

Chinese dragon clipart    Chinese dragon clipart   Chinese dragon clipart
Chinese dragon clipart    Chinese dragon clipart

Chinese Dragon Symbol/ Characters in Chinese calligraphy
Wang Xizhi -- Jin
Su shi - Song dynasty

Wang Xizhi -- Jin
Wang Xizhi -- Jin

Su shi - Song dynasty
Su shi - Song dynasty

Su shi - Song dynasty

Du Mu - Tang Dynasty

Dragon's Nine Sons
The dragon is one of the totems of ancient China and symbolizes good fortune in Chinese culture and folklore. It is an animal that lives only in people's imaginations, and according to legend, it has the head of a bull, the horns of a deer, the eyes of a lobster, the body of a snake, the claws of a hawk, and the tail of a lion.

The dragon has nine sons. Each of them has his own duty, and each has his own likes and dislikes. Designs of the nine sons of the dragon were often used to decorate the eaves, ridges, balustrades, and terrace bases of ancient Chinese buildings and ancient Chinese weapons and vessels.

What are the names of the nine sons of the dragon? The answers differ according to different records, and each record gives each of them a different character and different habit. The question is, Did the ancient Chinese people give the nine sons of the dragon different characters according to their different decorative uses or give them different decorative uses according to their different characters? No one knows, but it is interesting to compare their different names and characters with their different decorative functions.

Qiu Niu

Qiu Niu loves music, he likes to crouch on the head of stringed instruments and listens to music. So his figure became a common decoration on the bridge of stringed musical instruments.

Qiu Niu - Click to Zoom in
click to zoom in

Ya Zi

Ya Zi is bad-tempered, fractious, and inclined to fight, so he often appears on ancient weapons. He can be seen on sword-hilts, knife hilts and battle axe. It is said that his figure can add power to these weapons.

Click to Zoom in

Chao Feng

Chao Feng is fearless ,loves to take risks and watch from high places, so he decorates the corners of palace roofs in ancient China.

Pu Lao

Pulao is fond of roaring and his figure is put on bell handles.. He lives near the sea, though he is one son of the dragon, but he fears to meet the big whale. When the whale attacts, he fears to roar loudly.

San Mi

His figure is like lion. Suanmi is fond of smoke and fire; his likeness can be seen on the legs of incense-burners. He is also used to guard beside the main door.

Click to Zoom in

Ba Xia

His figure is like tortoise, Baxia has great strength and likes to carrying heavy things. BaXia loves words , so he is used to carry stone tablets with inscriptions.In China, many famous steles are carried by Baxia.

Click to Zoom in

Bi An

The figure of Bi An is like tiger. He is wise and can tell who is good or evil, so his figure became decorations of prision or court.

Fu Xi

Fuxi loves literature, his figures are carved on sides of stone tablets with inscriptions.
r loudly.

Chi Wen

Chi Wen likes swallowing things. The four beasts that swallow the ridges of the hall in the picture are all Chi Wen, so he is also called the Ridge-Swallowing Beast. He is said to be in charge of rainfall, so the design has the purpose of safeguarding palaces from fire.

Click to Zoom in


Jiaotu is as tight-lipped as a mussel or a snail. His image is carved on doors.

Gong Fu

Gong Fu likes water, so he is always carved on the holes of bridge.

in Forbidden City
Click to Zoom in

Dragon Tortoise

This is Dragon Tortoise, his head is dragon, but body is tortoise.
in Forbidden City
Click to Zoom in

You were born in the Dragon year!------The Celestial Dragon

Starting Dates
Ending Dates
February 16, 1904
February 3, 1905
February 3, 1916
January 22, 1917
January 23, 1928
February 9, 1929
February 8, 1940
January 26, 1941
January 27, 1952
February 13, 1953
February 13, 1964
Febraury 1, 1965
January 31, 1976
February 17, 1977
February 17, 1988
February 5, 1989
February 5, 2000
January 23, 2001
chinese zodiac dragon
Hours ruled by the Dragon : 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Direction of its sign : East-Southeast
Season and principle month : Spring - April
Corresponds to the Western sign : Aries
Fixed element : Wood
Stem : Positive

The Year of Dragon

The Dragon Personality

chinese zodiac compatibility - Dragon

Dragon Child

The Five Types of Dragon

The Dragon and his Ascendants

Chinese Zodiac Jade Pendants
A magnificent comeback after the recuperative 
year of the Rabbit. We will throw caution to the four winds and roll up our sleeves for all sorts of grandiose, exhilarating, colossal, over ambitious and daring projects. The indomitable spirit of the Dragon will inflate everything to larger than life size. Somehow we will find ourselves bubbling with excess energy. It will be wise not to overestimate ourselves or our potentials in this combustible year. Things appear better than they actually are.
On the brighter side, business will be good and money can be generated or obtained easily. It is the time to ask your bank for a loan. Big spending and lavish plans are the rule of the day. The mighty Dragon sneers at the prudent and penny-pinching. He gambles for all or nothing. He will stimulate us to think and act big, even overstepping the bounds of caution.
Orientals consider this to be an auspicious year to get married, have children, or start a new business , as the benevolent Dragon brings good fortune and happiness.
However, this is also a time to temper our enthusiasm and look twice before taking a plunge. For although the lucky Dragon showers his blessing indiscriminately on all, he disappears when the time comes for making retributions for our errors. Success as well as failures will thus be magnified. The Fire Dragon is especially feared, as he wreaks more havoc than the Dragons of the other elements.
In the Dragon's year, fortunes as well as disaster will come in massive waves. This is a year marked by a lot of surprises and violent acts of nature. Tempers will flare the world over and everyone will be staging some real or imaginary revolt against constrictions. The electric atmosphere created by the might Dragon will affect us, one and all.
Source: The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes by Theodora Lau Published by arrow Books Limited 

Sculptures of Dragon - Works of Han Meilin

Han Meilin is regarded as orient Picasso, below are some of his excellent works, is you want to know details about him, click here.


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