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Flag of the Commissioner of Weihaiwei with the Chinese dragon in the center, — State emblem of Republic of China , — Chinese dragon was one of the supporters of the colonial arms of Hong Kong until Chinese dragon was holding a shield from the arms of Portugal in the colonial arms of the Government of Macau until The ancient Chinese self-identified as "the gods of the dragon" because the Chinese dragon is an imagined reptile that represents evolution from the ancestors and qi energy.

The coiled dragon or snake form played an important role in early Chinese culture. The character for "dragon" in the earliest Chinese writing has a similar coiled form, as do later jade dragon amulets from the Shang period.

Ancient Chinese referred to unearthed dinosaur bones as dragon bones and documented them as such. Fossilized remains of Mei long have been found in China in a sleeping and coiled form, with the dinosaur nestling its snout beneath one of its forelimbs while encircling its tail around its entire body.

The C-shaped jade totem of Hongshan culture c. Gilded-bronze handle in the shape of a dragon head and neck, made during the Eastern Han period 25— AD.

From its origins as totems or the stylized depiction of natural creatures, the Chinese dragon evolved to become a mythical animal.

The Han dynasty scholar Wang Fu recorded Chinese myths that long dragons had nine anatomical resemblances. The people paint the dragon's shape with a horse's head and a snake's tail.

Further, there are expressions as 'three joints' and 'nine resemblances' of the dragon , to wit: from head to shoulder, from shoulder to breast, from breast to tail.

If a dragon has no [ chimu ], he cannot ascend to the sky. Further sources give variant lists of the nine animal resemblances.

The head of a crocodile. A demon's eyes. The neck of a snake. A tortoise's viscera. A hawk's claws. The palms of a tiger.

A cow's ears. And it hears through its horns, its ears being deprived of all power of hearing. Chinese dragons were considered to be physically concise.

Of the scales, 81 are of the yang essence positive while 36 are of the yin essence negative. Initially, the dragon was benevolent, wise, and just, but the Buddhists introduced the concept of malevolent influence among some dragons.

Just as water destroys, they said, so can some dragons destroy via floods, tidal waves, and storms. They suggested that some of the worst floods were believed to have been the result of a mortal upsetting a dragon.

Many pictures of Chinese dragons show a flaming pearl under their chin or in their claws. The pearl is associated with spiritual energy, wisdom, prosperity, power, immortality, thunder, or the moon.

Chinese art often depicts a pair of dragons chasing or fighting over the flaming pearl. 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, can change color as an ability to blend in with their surroundings, as an effective form of camouflage or glow in the dark according to the Shuowen Jiezi.

In many other countries, folktales speak of the dragon having all the attributes of the other 11 creatures of the zodiac, this includes the whiskers of the Rat , the face and horns of the Ox , the claws and teeth of the Tiger , the belly of the Rabbit , the body of the Snake , the legs of the Horse , the goatee of the Goat , the wit of the Monkey , the crest of the Rooster , the ears of the Dog , and the snout of the Pig.

In some circles, it is considered bad luck to depict a dragon facing downwards, as it is seen as disrespectful to place a dragon in such manner that it cannot ascend to the sky.

Also, depictions of dragons in tattoos are prevalent as they are symbols of strength and power, especially criminal organisations where dragons hold a meaning all on their own.

As such, it is believed that one must be fierce and strong enough, hence earning the right to wear the dragon on his skin, lest his luck be consumed by the dragons.

Chinese dragons are strongly associated with water and weather in popular religion. They are believed to be the rulers of moving bodies of water, such as waterfalls, rivers, or seas.

The Dragon God is the dispenser of rain as well as the zoomorphic representation of the yang masculine power of generation. Because of this association, they are seen as "in charge" of water-related weather phenomena.

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 Wuyue 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 sea.

According to Chinese legend, both Chinese primogenitors, the earliest Door and the Yellow Emperor Huangdi , were closely related to 'Long' Chinese dragon.

At the end of his reign, the first legendary ruler, the Yellow Emperor, was said to have been immortalized into a dragon that resembled his emblem, and ascended to Heaven.

The other legendary ruler, the Yan Emperor, was born by his mother's telepathy with a mythical dragon. Since the Chinese consider the Yellow Emperor and the Yan Emperor as their ancestors, 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. Dragons usually with five claws on each foot were a symbol for the emperor in many Chinese dynasties.

During the Qing dynasty, the imperial dragon was colored yellow or gold, and during the Ming dynasty it was red. During the late Qing dynasty, the dragon was even adopted as the national flag.

Dragons are featured in carvings on the stairs and walkways of imperial palaces and imperial tombs, such as at 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 Chinese phoenix. Worship of the Dragon God is celebrated throughout China with sacrifices and processions during the fifth and sixth moons, and especially on the date of his birthday the thirteenth day of the sixth moon.

Dragons or dragon-like depictions have been found extensively in neolithic-period archaeological sites throughout China. Some of earliest depictions of dragons were found at Xinglongwa culture sites.

Yangshao culture sites in Xi'an have produced clay pots with dragon motifs. A burial site Xishuipo in Puyang which is associated with the Yangshao culture shows a large dragon mosaic made out of clam shells.

The Hongshan culture sites in present-day Inner Mongolia produced jade dragon objects in the form of pig dragons which are the first 3-dimensional representations of Chinese dragons.

One such early form was the pig dragon. It is a coiled, elongated creature with a head resembling a boar.

Chinese literature and myths refer to many dragons besides the famous long. The linguist Michael Carr analyzed over ancient dragon names attested in Chinese classic texts.

Fewer Chinese dragon names derive from the prefix long Chinese scholars have classified dragons in diverse systems. For instance, Emperor Huizong of the Song dynasty canonized five colored dragons as "kings".

Further, the same author enumerates nine other kinds of dragons, which are represented as ornaments of different objects or buildings according to their liking prisons, water, the rank smell of newly caught fish or newly killed meat, wind and rain, ornaments, smoke, shutting the mouth used for adorning key-holes , standing on steep places placed on roofs , and fire.

Each coin in the sets depicts one of the 9 sons, including an additional coin for the father dragon, which depicts the nine sons on the reverse.

Early Chinese dragons are depicted with two to five claws. Different countries that adopted the Chinese dragon have different preferences; in Mongolia and Korea, four-clawed dragons are used, while in Japan , three-clawed dragons are common.

The Hongwu Emperor of the Ming dynasty emulated the Yuan dynasty rules on the use of the dragon motif and decreed that the dragon would be his emblem and that it would have five claws.

The four-clawed dragon would be used typically for imperial nobility and certain high-ranking officials. The three-clawed dragon was used by lower ranks and the general public widely seen on various Chinese goods in the Ming dynasty.

The dragon, however, was only for select royalty closely associated with the imperial family, usually in various symbolic colors, while it was a capital offense for anyone—other than the emperor himself—to ever use the completely gold-colored, five-clawed Long dragon motif.

Improper use of claw number or colors was considered treason, punishable by execution of the offender's entire clan. During the Qing dynasty , the Manchus initially considered three-clawed dragons the most sacred and used that until when it was replaced by five-clawed dragons, and portraits of the Qing emperors were usually depicted with five-clawed dragons.

In works of art that left the imperial collection, either as gifts or through pilfering by court eunuchs a long-standing problem , where practicable, one claw was removed from each set, as in several pieces of carved lacquerware , [38] for example the well known Chinese lacquerware table in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

The number nine is special in China as it is seen as number of the heaven, and Chinese dragons are frequently connected with it.

This is also why there are nine forms of the dragon and there are 9 sons of the dragon see Classical depictions above. The Nine-Dragon Wall is a spirit wall with images of nine different dragons, and is found in imperial Chinese palaces and gardens.

Because nine was considered the number of the emperor, only the most senior officials were allowed to wear nine dragons on their robes—and then only with the robe completely covered with surcoats.

Lower-ranking officials had eight or five dragons on their robes, again covered with surcoats; even the emperor himself wore his dragon robe with one of its nine dragons hidden from view.

The Dragon is one of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac which is used to designate years in the Chinese calendar. It is thought that each animal is associated with certain personality traits.

Dragon years are usually the most popular to have children. There are more people born in Dragon years than in any other animal years of the zodiac.

In this context, the Azure Dragon is associated with the East and the element of Wood. At special festivals, especially the Duanwu Festival , dragon boat races are an important part of festivities.

Typically, these are boats paddled by a team of up to 20 paddlers with a drummer and steersman. The boats have a carved dragon as the head and tail of the boat.

They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted. Its snorting throws out flashes of light; its eyes are like the rays of dawn.

Flames stream from its mouth; sparks of fire shoot out. Smoke pours from its nostrils as from a boiling pot over burning reeds. Its breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from its mouth.

The belief in dragons was based not just in legend but also in hard evidence, or at least that's what people thought, long ago.

For millennia no one knew what to make of the giant bones that were occasionally unearthed around the globe, and dragons seemed a logical choice for people who had no knowledge of dinosaurs.

Though most people can easily picture a dragon, people's ideas and descriptions of dragons vary dramatically. Some dragons have wings; others don't.

Some dragons can speak or breathe fire; others can't. Some are only a few feet long; others span miles. Some dragons live in palaces under the ocean, while others can only be found in caves and inside mountains.

Their body color may range from green, red, and black to unusually yellow, blue or white dragons. At its root, the is a chameleon — its features adapting to the cultural and literary expectations of the era.

Dragons continue to capture the public's imagination in fantasy books and films, appearing in everything from the kid-friendly film "How to Train Your Dragon," to the more adult-oriented "Game of Thrones" books and TV series and "The Hobbit" book and movies.

The popular role-playing game Advanced Dungeons and Dragons describes more than a dozen varieties of dragons, each with unique personalities, powers and other characteristics Black dragons, for example, are fond of eels — who knew?

The word "dragon" comes from the ancient Greek word "draconta," meaning "to watch," suggesting that the beast guards treasure , such as mountains of gold coins or gems.

But this doesn't really make sense because a creature as powerful as a dragon surely doesn't need to pay for anything, right? It's probably more of a symbolic treasure, not for the hoarding dragon but instead a reward for the brave knights who would vanquish the evil beast.

Dragons are one of the few monsters cast in mythology primarily as a powerful and fearsome opponent to be slain. They don't simply exist for their own sake; they exist largely as a foil for bold adventurers.

Other mythical beasts such as trolls, elves and fairies interact with people sometimes mischievously, sometimes helpfully but their main role is not as a combatant.

The Christian church created legends of righteous and godly saints battling and vanquishing Satan in the form of dragons.

The most celebrated of these was St. George the Dragon Slayer, who in legend comes upon a town threatened by a terrible dragon. He rescues a fair maiden, protects himself with the sign of the cross, and slays the beast.

The town's citizens, impressed by St. George's feat of faith and bravery, immediately convert to Christianity.

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In general, in the Middle Eastern world, where snakes are large and deadly, the serpent or dragon was symbolic of the principle of evil.

Thus, the Egyptian god Apepi , for example, was the great serpent of the world of darkness. But the Greeks and Romans, though accepting the Middle Eastern idea of the serpent as an evil power, also at times conceived the drakontes as beneficent powers—sharp-eyed dwellers in the inner parts of the Earth.

On the whole, however, the evil reputation of dragons was the stronger, and in Europe it outlived the other. Christianity confused the ancient benevolent and malevolent serpent deities in a common condemnation.

In Christian art the dragon came to be symbolic of sin and paganism and, as such, was depicted prostrate beneath the heels of saints and martyrs.

Because they not only possessed both protective and terror-inspiring qualities but also had decorative effigies, dragons were early used as warlike emblems.

In England before the Norman Conquest , the dragon was chief among the royal ensigns in war, having been instituted as such by Uther Pendragon , father of King Arthur.

In the 20th century the dragon was officially incorporated in the armorial bearings of the prince of Wales.

In the Far East, the dragon managed to retain its prestige and is known as a beneficent creature. The Chinese dragon, lung , represented yang, the principle of heaven, activity, and maleness in the yin-yang of Chinese cosmology.

From ancient times, it was the emblem of the Imperial family, and until the founding of the republic the dragon adorned the Chinese flag. Both Chinese and Japanese dragons, though regarded as powers of the air, are usually wingless.

They are among the deified forces of nature in Taoism. The term dragon has no zoological meaning, but it has been applied in the Latin generic name Draco to a number of species of small lizards found in the Indo-Malayan region.

The name is also popularly applied to the giant monitor, Varanus komodoensis , discovered on Komodo, in Indonesia. Article Media. Info Print Cite.

Submit Feedback. 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 Chinese phoenix. Worship of the Dragon God is celebrated throughout China with sacrifices and processions during the fifth and sixth moons, and especially on the date of his birthday the thirteenth day of the sixth moon.

Dragons or dragon-like depictions have been found extensively in neolithic-period archaeological sites throughout China. Some of earliest depictions of dragons were found at Xinglongwa culture sites.

Yangshao culture sites in Xi'an have produced clay pots with dragon motifs. A burial site Xishuipo in Puyang which is associated with the Yangshao culture shows a large dragon mosaic made out of clam shells.

The Hongshan culture sites in present-day Inner Mongolia produced jade dragon objects in the form of pig dragons which are the first 3-dimensional representations of Chinese dragons.

One such early form was the pig dragon. It is a coiled, elongated creature with a head resembling a boar.

Chinese literature and myths refer to many dragons besides the famous long. The linguist Michael Carr analyzed over ancient dragon names attested in Chinese classic texts.

Fewer Chinese dragon names derive from the prefix long Chinese scholars have classified dragons in diverse systems.

For instance, Emperor Huizong of the Song dynasty canonized five colored dragons as "kings". Further, the same author enumerates nine other kinds of dragons, which are represented as ornaments of different objects or buildings according to their liking prisons, water, the rank smell of newly caught fish or newly killed meat, wind and rain, ornaments, smoke, shutting the mouth used for adorning key-holes , standing on steep places placed on roofs , and fire.

Each coin in the sets depicts one of the 9 sons, including an additional coin for the father dragon, which depicts the nine sons on the reverse.

Early Chinese dragons are depicted with two to five claws. Different countries that adopted the Chinese dragon have different preferences; in Mongolia and Korea, four-clawed dragons are used, while in Japan , three-clawed dragons are common.

The Hongwu Emperor of the Ming dynasty emulated the Yuan dynasty rules on the use of the dragon motif and decreed that the dragon would be his emblem and that it would have five claws.

The four-clawed dragon would be used typically for imperial nobility and certain high-ranking officials. The three-clawed dragon was used by lower ranks and the general public widely seen on various Chinese goods in the Ming dynasty.

The dragon, however, was only for select royalty closely associated with the imperial family, usually in various symbolic colors, while it was a capital offense for anyone—other than the emperor himself—to ever use the completely gold-colored, five-clawed Long dragon motif.

Improper use of claw number or colors was considered treason, punishable by execution of the offender's entire clan. During the Qing dynasty , the Manchus initially considered three-clawed dragons the most sacred and used that until when it was replaced by five-clawed dragons, and portraits of the Qing emperors were usually depicted with five-clawed dragons.

In works of art that left the imperial collection, either as gifts or through pilfering by court eunuchs a long-standing problem , where practicable, one claw was removed from each set, as in several pieces of carved lacquerware , [38] for example the well known Chinese lacquerware table in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

The number nine is special in China as it is seen as number of the heaven, and Chinese dragons are frequently connected with it.

This is also why there are nine forms of the dragon and there are 9 sons of the dragon see Classical depictions above.

The Nine-Dragon Wall is a spirit wall with images of nine different dragons, and is found in imperial Chinese palaces and gardens.

Because nine was considered the number of the emperor, only the most senior officials were allowed to wear nine dragons on their robes—and then only with the robe completely covered with surcoats.

Lower-ranking officials had eight or five dragons on their robes, again covered with surcoats; even the emperor himself wore his dragon robe with one of its nine dragons hidden from view.

The Dragon is one of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac which is used to designate years in the Chinese calendar. It is thought that each animal is associated with certain personality traits.

Dragon years are usually the most popular to have children. There are more people born in Dragon years than in any other animal years of the zodiac.

In this context, the Azure Dragon is associated with the East and the element of Wood. At special festivals, especially the Duanwu Festival , dragon boat races are an important part of festivities.

Typically, these are boats paddled by a team of up to 20 paddlers with a drummer and steersman. The boats have a carved dragon as the head and tail of the boat.

Dragon boat racing is also an important part of celebrations outside of China, such as at Chinese New Year. A similar racing is popular in India in the state of Kerala called Vallamkali and there are records on Chinese traders visiting the seashores of Kerala centuries back Ibn Batuta.

On auspicious occasions, including Chinese New Year and the opening of shops and residences, festivities often include dancing with dragon puppets.

These are "life sized" cloth-and-wood puppets manipulated by a team of people, supporting the dragon with poles. They perform choreographed moves to the accompaniment of drums, drama, and music.

They also wore good clothing made of silk. In Chinese symbolism, it is a feminine entity that is paired with the masculine Chinese dragon, as a visual metaphor of a balanced and blissful relationship, symbolic of both a happy marriage and a regent's long reign.

The tiger is considered to be the eternal rival to the dragon, thus various artworks depict a dragon and tiger fighting an epic battle.

A well used Chinese idiom to describe equal rivals often in sports nowadays is " Dragon versus Tiger ". In Chinese martial arts , " Dragon style " is used to describe styles of fighting based more on understanding movement, while " Tiger style " is based on brute strength and memorization of techniques.

The elm cultivar Ulmus pumila 'Pendula' , from northern China, called 'Weeping Chinese Elm' in the West, is known locally as Lung chao yü shu : 'Dragon's-claw elm' owing to its branching.

While depictions of the dragon in art and literature are consistent throughout the cultures in which it is found, there are some regional differences.

For more information on peculiarities in the depiction of the dragon in other Asian cultures, see:. Nine-Dragon Wall , Datong detail.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the airlines, see Loong Air. Main article: Longshen. Main article: Yellow Dragon.

Main article: Nine sons of the dragon. Main article: Dragon zodiac. See also: Five elements Chinese philosophy.

Main article: Dragon boat. Main article: Dragon dance. See also: Fenghuang. Non-Imperial Chinese dragon in Shanghai.

An Instinct for Dragons , hypothesis about the origin of dragon myths. Chiang Mai: Cognoscenti Books. Kyoto National Museum. Beyond the Legacy of Genghis Khan.

Brill Academic Publishers. Routledge publishing. Ultravisum, Walsh An introduction to Chinese culture through the family. State University of New York Press.

Ten Speed Press. Dinosaurian Faunas of China. China Ocean Press, Beijing. BBC News Online. Retrieved Nature , : — Verhandelingen der Koninklijke akademie van wetenschappen te Amsterdam.

Afdeeling Letterkunde. Nieuwe reeks, deel xiii, no. Amsterdam: Johannes Müller: Researches into Chinese Superstitions. Translated by M. Kennelly; D.

Finn; L. The Greeks in Asia. Thames and Hudson. The Chinese Dragon. Shanghai, China: Commercial Press Ltd.

Shanghai People's Publishing House, The Walters Art Museum. Atlas of World Art. Laurence King Publishing.

Retrieved on He classified them into seven categories: Rain-dragons, Flying-dragons, Snake-dragons, Wug-dragons [ wug refers to "worms, bugs, and small reptiles"], Crocodile-dragons, Hill-dragons, and Miscellaneous dragons.

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