The concept of the Chinese dragon has been a part of people’s daily lives in China. The dragon is an important part of Chinese culture. In the Chinese language, the dragon is the Long, Loong or Lung. Further, it defines the Chinese culture to date. Even more, the Chinese refer to themselves as descendants of the dragon. Most noteworthy, the dragon is the national emblem of China. Almost everything in China is somewhat associated with the dragon. The Chinese show great respect to dragons depicted in pictures, drawings or carvings. Today, dragon sculptures appear on pillars of temples and significant buildings in China.
According to the Chinese, a dragon is a divine mythical animal. It wards off evil spirits, protects the innocent and safeguards all. Similarly, a dragon is a symbol of nobility, solemnness, wisdom and good fortune. Its benevolence signifies greatness, goodness and blessings.
Further, it is an auspicious creature with magical powers that coexist in heaven with the gods. Dragons are deities. They are wise, compassionate and watch over the people. When Buddhists or Taoists achieve perfection in life, they ride to heaven on dragons.
Most noteworthy, dragons are always associated with water. They rule over moving water bodies such as waterfalls, rivers and seas.
History of the Chinese Dragon
The presence of dragons among the Chinese dates back thousands of years. However, there exists no specific explanation on how dragons became part of Chinese culture.
According to legends, a dragon statue was discovered in 5, 000 BC in China.
On the other hand, scholarly evidence is different. The image of a dragon originated from totems of the different tribes of China. A totem is a symbolic representation of an animal (or plant). The physical appearance of a dragon is a combination of body parts from different animals.
Scholarly reports allege that the Yellow Emperor, Huang Di had a snake emblem for his court of arms. There were fights between his tribe and nine other tribes of the Yellow River Valley. Thus, anytime he conquered a tribe, he would include a part of their totem to his snake emblem. This explains the look of the dragon.
How does the Chinese dragon look?
First of all, the dragon has the head of a camel, neck of an iguana and the body of a snake. Further, its body has the scales of a carp while the horns are those of a giant stag. Additionally, it has the eyes of a hare while its ears are those of a bull. It has a goat’s beard, the paws of a tiger and the claws of a hawk.
Moreover, Chinese dragons come in a variety of colours including blue, yellow, black, white and red.
The 9 Chinese dragons
To begin with, there is the horned dragon known as Jiaolong. This is the most powerful dragon.
Secondly, Yinglong is the winged dragon. It is in charge of controlling rains and floods.
Third, there is Tianlong; the celestial dragon. It is the dragon that brings rain and controls the general weather.
Also, there is the spiritual dragon called Shenlong. This is the guardian of the gods and protector of the heavens.
Besides that, we have Fucanglong; the hidden treasures dragon. It lives within the volcanoes where special metals and minerals are.
The sixth is the coiling dragon called Panlong. This dragon lives in the bottom of water bodies and has never ascended to heaven.
Further, there is the yellow dragon or Huanglong. It is a hornless dragon. Also, it symbolizes the Yellow Emperor.
Additionally, we have Dilong; the dragon of the rivers, lakes and seas.
Finally, there is the Dragon Kings. These are our dragons that rule over each of the four seas. These are seas to the East, West, North and South of China.
Besides the nine Chinese dragons, there are the nine dragon sons. Their images feature greatly in monumental and architectural decorations.
The relevance of the dragon in China today
To begin with, the dragon is a symbol of the Chinese zodiac according to the Chinese calendar. It is the fourth Zodiac sign. Recent dragon years are 2000, 2012 and 2024. Years of the dragon are powerful years, full of good fortune and prosperity.
Even more, the Chinese love to name their Children after the dragon. Many Chinese have names ending in long or lung.
Further, the dragon is still celebrated in China today. Dragon shows and dragon dances are a common feature in China cities. Similarly, the dragon boat festival further proves that the dragon shapes the culture of China.
For those that practice martial arts, the dragon style of fighting is regularly taught.
Likewise, the Chinese draw dragon symbols as tattoos. Also, they appear as decorative pieces of embroidery and in architectural design works.
Still, the dragon remains a symbol of imperial superiority.