China is a country that is very well known for its array of fascinating mythological creatures. One of the most famous of these creatures is the Chinese Dragon or as sometimes known, the Oriental Dragon. We all know know the image of the dragon from cartoons such as Sleeping Beauty, where Malificent changes herself into a fierce dragon to stop the prince rescuing Aurora, or the grand majestic dragons of BraveHeart. These dragons are large, stocky creatures who fly with enormous wings, with the ability to breath fire from the pit of their belly. These western dragons hail from Germany and are creatures of the element of Earth. They are often shown to be evil, and relentlessly violent, although, these poor guys are likely misunderstood.. Chinese Dragons, however have several differences. These Dragons are portrayed to be benevolent beings, and are friendly, gentle and wise.
Chinese dragons rarely have wings, yet they still retain the ability to fly up into the heavens. They have long, large, but slim bodies, which are snake like, that flow with grace and beauty. They have four or five eagle like claws, but these are not used to hurt. While most dragons had four claws, the imperial dragon had five, and only the Emperor was permitted to use the motif of the Imperial Dragon. Any other using this motif would be severely punished. Many dragons will have a mix of camel like facial features with and almost human like expression in the eyes. They also often posses a beard and they can be of any colour. Their colours often have significant meaning. The have scales of a fish and ears which resemble that of a bovine creature. While the Chinese dragon does not usually have wings, as mentioned before, if they do have wings, such as the case with the winged, or YingLong dragon, their wings will be bat like, scaled and somewhat smaller than the wings of a western dragon. The dragon also has horns that are not unlike that of a stag. Finally, they have four legs.
The colours of each dragon also bear some significance. Blue and Green dragons represent nature, growth, serenity and health. Black and white symbolises the balance of the yin and yang. Yellow and Gold symbolises warmth and reliability. Finally red, the most traditional colour for the Chinese Dragon, represents fortune and happiness.
These dragons, unlike their Germanic counterparts, do not breath fire. Auspicious, magickal powers, co-exist with the gods in heaven. They are the rulers of and have the ability to summon and control water, and unsurprisingly, are very strongly associated with water as an element, and this is shown in many Chinese folklore tales about dragons. In one tale in particular “The Four Dragons”, we hear of four dragons who see that the poor people of China are starving because their crops cannot grow because of drought, and despite the trouble they may bring on themselves, go into the ocean and bring the water into the heavens so that it rains down on the land.
The dragon, much like many mythological creatures throughout a number of cultures, possess the power of shape-shifting and it is said that they can transform themselves into silk worms. The four dragons of the chinese tale mentioned above, finishes with the four dragons, who upon being trapped under mountains for helping the Chinese people by raining water on their land, transform themselves into four rivers. The rivers connected and lead to the four seas, so that the people will always have access to water.
The are symbols of nobility, solemness and holyness. The bring good luck, wealth and help people who are going through hard times or who are in trouble. They are also associated with protection and are thought to repel evil spirits. One of the parts they play in the Chinese New Years parade is to repel the evil spirits so that the new year is prosperous and lucky, rather than being ruined by the doings of evil spirits. With the Chinese Dragon present, this malevolent entities will not even get a chances to cause misfortune.
Dragons have been present in Chinese culture for thousands of years and are considered to be among the deities by many people of China and in other Asian countries. It is thought that they watch protectively over the people, and for this they are beloved. In the Buddhist faith, it is believed that when a Buddhist or Dharma has achieved perfection or enlightenment, that upon their death, they ride to heaven on a dragon. Some Chinese people believed that they were descended from the dragons, especially those born in the year of the dragon.
The people believe there to be fours dragon kings for each of the four seas, the North Sea, the West Sea, the South Sea and the East Sea. Many towns near bodies of waters had a temple dedicated to the appropriate dragon king for that area and they were highly revered. Rituals were held and sacrifices were made to honour these dragons in ceremonies lead the temple officials.
There are nine types of dragon in Chinese mythology and each have their own distinct creatures.
The Huanglong Dragon or the yellow dragon, another dragon who worked closely with a Chinese Emperor, presenting the Emperor Fu Shi with the foundations of writing.
The Winged dragon or Yinglong, was thought to been in servitude to the Yellow Emperor Huang Di, who flew the dragon. When he died, he was depicted as a dragon. The Yinglong is thought to have helped dig rivers and prevent flooding.
The Celestial Dragon or the Tialong are the dragons that reside in heaven They live close to and pull the chariots of the gods despite dragons being considered as deities in their own right.
The Spiritual dragon or the Shenglong brings rain and controls weather to help the people of China, preventing drought and famine.
The Treasure dragon or the FucanglongT guards precious treasures. It is said that they live nderground to protect buried treasures, and that vocanos were created when they burst through the earth to fly to the heavens.
The Panlong or Coiling dragon not ascended to heaven and inhabit lakes.
The Dilong dragon was the protector of rivers and seas and is thought to be the female form of the Shenglong
The Dragon Kings or LongWang live in crystal palaces and are the four dragons who are depicted in the tale mentioned before.
The Jialong or Horned Dragon is considered to be the strongest of all the dragons.
The dragon is present in much of Chinese culture, including the presence of Dragon style fighting in Chinese martial arts, which uses an approach bases on the understanding of movement. The dragon is also seen in Chinese Astrology. It is the fourth sign in the Chinese zodiac and like the other signs, the dragon is assigned to certain years of birth. People who are born under the year of the dragon are thought to be strong, courageous, stubborn and have a lot of drive to succeed. The dragon is also part of four constellations which are thought to watch over the earth, one of whom is the Azure dragon, who is one of four celestial protectors. The others are a tiger, a tortoise and a red bird.