Chinese Dragons - Origins, Symbolize, Types, and Culture
In sharp contrast to Western ideas about dragons, the Chinese dragons are beneficent creatures, the bringer of fertilizing rains. The spiritual meaning of Chinese dragons is strength, good luck, and awe-inspiring power. It has long been the symbol of the emperor.
Chinese dragon is a long, serpentine-like, and legendary creature, its figures appear everywhere in China: temples, architectures, stone status, museums, books and movies, art galleries, and many artworks.
Interesting Facts about Chinese Dragon
- Chinese dragon called: Loong or Long; Chinese character:龙
- Dragons are powerful and strength symbol
- Chinese dragon and western dragon are two different creatures
- There are five colors of Chinese dragons: green, white, black, red, and yellow, and each had significant meaning.
- Chinese dragons do not exist in real life.
- The totem of Han nationality is composed of a dragon and a phoenix. The dragon represents Yang and the phoenix represents Yin, which means men and women.
- Chinses dragon composed of outstanding features of nine animals: the head of a camel, the horns of a deer, the ears of a cow, the eyes of a rabbit, the serpentine neck, the belly of a sea monster, the scales of a carp, the claws of an eagle and the tiger's paws.
The Origins of Chinese Dragon
It is difficult to determine how the myth of the dragon in China built up itself. The most popular legends about the origin of Chinese dragons in the folklores:
Legend 1: Ancient tribe totem. The Yellow Emperor, widely known as Huangdi, an ancient tribe leader conquered neighboring tribes on the Yellow River Valley and united the country. He union several different tribes' totems into his own dragon totem, such as the snake and fish, used as a symbol of the power of the emperor.
Legend 2: Worship the power of nature. Ancient Chinese was live on agriculture, rain and water played an important role in people’s life. They believed a mysterious creature with ultimate power ruler the heaven, the imaginative figure of the dragon has been gradually created as agriculture numen, represented the rain, lightning, and thunder.
Legend 3: Another hypothesis implies that the Chinese dragon would have been inspired by the marine crocodile, the bigger reptile living today. Crocodiles were moreover in ancient times perceived as a variety of dragons.
The Earliest Dragon Image Found in China Can be Dated Back to 8000 Years Ago
What reality the dragon was first invented is unknown. A piled stone dragon has been excavated at Xinglongwa Culture relic in Inner Mongolia in 1994, recognized as the earliest dragon figure in China. The ruins of the early stages of the Neolithic Age can be dated back to 8000 years ago.
What Do the Chinese Dragon Symbolize?
Agriculture life - In ancient times, Chinese dragons are referred to as the divine mythical creature that brings with good harvest, prosperity, and good fortune.
Imperial Authority - In the feudalist society, Chinese emperors think they are real dragons and the son of heaven. The dragon has represented the supreme power and authority of the imperial emperor.
Descendants of Dragons – In modern China, the dragon is a symbol of unity, bravery, and wisdom that appears in various cultural activities and festivals; the descendants of dragons (Lung Tik Chuan Ren) are used as an expression of ethnic identity for Chinese people.
Types of Chinese Dragon
According to Chinese mythology, there are many types of dragons with different characters：
- Flood Dragon (in Chinese: Jiaolong 蛟龙）- the one with scale
- Winged Dragon （in Chinese: Yinglong 应龙）- the one with wings
- Horned Dragon (in Chinese: Qiulong 虬龙） the young dragon with horns
- Hornless Dragon (in Chinese: Chilong 螭龙) - the dragon is Without Horns
- Coiling Dragon （in Chinese: Panlong 蟠龙） - the one who has not ascended to heaven
- Azure Dragon (in Chinese: Qinglong 青龙) – represent the East in the Chinese constellations
- Celestial (in Chinese: Tianlong 天龙) - guards heavenly palaces and protect the celestial gods
- Spiritual Dragon (in Chinese: Shenlong 神龙) - controls the wind and rain
- Fuzanglong (in Chinese: Fucanglong 伏藏龙) - the Dragons guardian of precious treasures
- Dilong （in Chinese: Dilong 地龙）- controls the river and sea
- Dragon King （in Chinese: Longwang, 龙王） - the most powerful dragon guards the central universe in the Chinese mythology
The Nine Sons of the Chinese Dragon – Names, Physical Character
The dragon has nine sons is a popular story in Chinese mythology, they are various endowed with unique merits, but none of them looks like a dragon. In traditional Chinese culture, the number of nine means the supreme authority of the emperor.
- Qiuniu (in Chinese: qiú niú 囚牛), yellow body with scales, likes music, squats at the head of the musical instrument.
- Yazi (in Chinese: yá zì 睚眦), instinctive killing and fighting, use to engraved on the knife ring and sword handle;
- Chaofeng (in Chinese: cháo fēng 嘲风) hybrid of phoenix and dragon, likes to adventure, placed on four corners of the roof.
- Pulao (in Chinese: pú láo 蒲牢), roars loudly when attacked, acts like an animal used on top of the bell.
- Suanni (in Chinese: suān ní 狻猊), shaped like a lion, likes to sit down and smoke, so the image generally appears on the incense burner.
- Bixi (in Chinese: bì xì 贔屭), which looks like a turtle with teeth, likes to carry heavy weights, often under the stone tablet.
- Bian (in Chinese: bì àn 狴犴), a hybrid of tiger and dragon, its image used on both sides of the prison gate or the main hall of the central government.
- Fuxi (in Chinese: fù xì负屃), appearance taking after the dragon, elegant and gentle, coiled around the top of the stone tablet.
- Chiwen (in Chinese: chī wěn 螭) fish-like, hornless dragon, moist mouth, large, usually found along roof ridges of the temples, protect against the fire.
Western Dragon VS Chinese Dragon
In the western Country, dragons use to be depicted as evil, dangerous monsters, they appear as fire-breathing dragons or keepers of treasures in most Western stories.
Unlike the negative energies associated with Western Dragons, most Eastern Dragons are beautiful, friendly, and wise. They are the Angels of the East, considered symbols of vibrant energy, and are a favorite among the public.
Dragons in Chinese Culture – Festivals and Architecture
Even though dragons are mythological creatures, the Chinese still pay tribute to the dragon, and images of the dragon can be seen in Chinese art and architecture.
Events honoring the dragon can also be seen today during the celebration of the Dragon Dance.
The Dragon Dance
Dragon Dance was originally used as a ceremonial dance to please the Dragon King to help bring rain to the fields and blessing a good harvest. Nowadays, the Dragon Dance has become a popular form of entertainment.
The dragon can range in length from 9 meters (30 feet) to 20 meters (66 feet), at least ten men hold poles raise and lower the dragon, they are usually wearing dragon costumes with long pants. The head of the Dragon must be able to coordinate with the body movement, and stamping to the beat of the drum.
The Dragon Boat Festival
Chinese Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Tuen Ng Festival, commemorates the death of a popular Chinese national hero, Qu Yuan, who drowned himself in the Mi Lo River over 2,000 years ago to protest the corrupt rulers.
Legend has it that as townspeople attempted to rescue Qu Yuan, they beat drums to scare fish away and threw dumplings into the sea to keep the fish from eating his body.
The real highlight of the festival is the dragon boats racing in a lively, vibrant spectacle. Teams race the elaborately decorated dragon boats to the beat of heavy drums. The boats which measure more than 10 meters, have ornately carved and painted dragon heads and tails, and each carries a crew of 20-22 paddlers.
Chinses Dragon in Ancient Architectures
The dragon decoration used on the roof of Chinese architecture can be dated back to Han Dynasty (202 BC–220 AD). It is generally related to imperial power and royalty. In feudal China, the royal hierarchy is strictly following the principle, dragon pattern only used on the imperial palace and imperial mausoleum.
The Chinese Zodiac Dragon
Due to the fact, the Dragon has probably the largest category of traits and characteristics that bring fortune, luck, and power to the person born in this period.
- Chinese dragon years: 1904, 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012
- The next Chinese year of the dragon is 2024
- Chinese zodiac dragon compatibility: rooster, rat, and monkey
- Worst match with the dragon: Rabbit
Chinese Dragon Movies
The movies about this fictional creature to be found on big screen，here are the movies about Chinese Dragon you have to watch: The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, 2008《木乃伊3：龙帝之墓》; The Dragon Pearl《寻龙夺宝》, 2011; Chasing the Dragon Chinese 《追龍》, 2017， The Dragon Strikes Back 《龙族的反击》, 2018.
Tours Related to Chinese Dragon
Many tourist sites and temples in China are easy to find patterns or sculptures of dragons. Some temples were dedicated to burning incense to worship the dragons, to catch their benevolence.
Take those tours to explore the Chinese dragon culture: