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The Chinese Dragon
Most of us are all to familiar with the classic western concept of the dragon, but not all have a great insight into probably one of the most recognised dragons, the Chinese dragon.
In Chinese mythology there are five types of dragon:-
The first dragon
- Those guarding the gods and emperors
- Those controlling the wind and rain
- Earthly dragons which deepened the rivers and seas
- Guardians of hidden treasure
The First dragon appeared to the mythical emperor Fu-hsi, and filled the hole in the sky made by the monster Kung Kung. Its waking, sleeping and breathing determined day and night. Season and weather.
There are many differences between the classical dragon and the Chinese dragon, these include the ability to fly even without wings, shape-shifting abilities, and of course the general benevolent behaviour to the populace.
The Chinese dragon is made up of nine entities. The head of camel, the eyes of a demon, the ears of a cow, the horns of a stag, the neck of a snake, it's belly a clam's, it's claws that of an eagle, while the soles of his feet are that of a tiger, and the 117 scales that cover it's body are that of a carp.
The Chinese dragon has four claws as standard, but the Imperial dragon has five, this is to identify it above the lesser classes. Anyone other than the emperor using the 5 claw motif was put to death.
The Chinese dragon (Lung) was a divine bringer of rain, necessary for the good of the people. Throughout Chinese history the dragon has been equated with weather. It is said that some of the worst floodings were caused when a mortal has upset a dragon. The dragon was also a symbol of the emperor whose wisdom and divine power assured the well-being of his subjects. Many legends draw connections between the dragon and the emperor. Some emperors claimed to have descended from the dragon.
Chinese dragons of myth could make themselves as large as the universe or as small as a silkworm. They could also change color and disappear in a flash. They rise to the skies in the spring and plunge into the waters in the autumn.
Dragon occupies a very important position in Chinese mythology. It shows up in arts, literature, poetry, architecture, songs, and many aspects of the Chinese conscience. The origin of Chinese dragons is unknown, but certainly pre-dates the written history.
Nine Dragon Wall
A very popular tourist site in Beijing is this Nine-Dragon Wall in BaiHai Park. After hundreds of years, the colours of the ceramic tiles are just as brilliant. The wall was built in 1756. It is 21m long, about 15m high and i.2m thick. It is faced with 424 7-colour ceramic tiles. At the centre of the wall, there is a giant dragon, flanged by four dragons on each side. In addition to these nine large dragons, the wall is covered from edge to edge with many smaller dragons. In all, there are 635 dragons.
According to legend the Dragon had nine sons, and each had a strong personality. There is no general agreement as to what the Dragon's sons are called. However, to most people, they are:
- Haoxian A reckless and adventurous dragon whose image can be found decorating the eaves of palaces.
- Yazi Valiant and bellicose; his image is seen on sword-hilts and knife hilts.
- Chiwen likes to gaze into the distance and his appearance is often carved on pinnacles.
- Baxia is a good swimmer and his image decorates many bridge piers and archways.
- Pulao is fond of roaring and his figure is carved on bells.
- Bixi is an excellent pack-animal whose image appears on panniers.
- Qiuniu loves music and his figure is a common decoration on the bridge of stringed musical instruments.
- Suanmi is fond of smoke and fire; his likeness can be seen on the legs of incense-burners.
- Jiaotu is as tight-lipped as a mussel or a snail. His image is carved on doors.