A Dragon's Blessing, Chinese Tradition
The Chinese dragons, a.k.a. Eastern dragons, or Lung as they are known in China, are reptilian dragons often combined with parts from other animals. Unlike the negative energies associated with Western Medieval dragons, most Eastern Chinese dragons are beautiful, friendly, wise, intelligent and are considered to be energetic, decisive, optimistic and even quite ambitious in general. Chinese Dragons are also protectors of the weak and bringers of good luck and good fortune. In fact, in China almost everything connected with dragons is thought of as being blessed. Dragons are worshiped and greatly loved by the Chinese people. In Chinese history, dragon were believed to be in total control of the lakes, oceans and the rain.
The Unbounded Dragons of Asia & China
To the East, dragons symbolize power and excellence, valiancy and boldness, heroism and perseverance, nobility and divinity. Chinese dragons are known for overcoming any obstacle until success is theirs. Historically, Eastern dragons have the ability to live in the seas, fly up into the heavens and coil up on the land to form the mountains. Being a divine mythical Chinese animal, the Dragon can ward off wandering evil spirits, protect the innocent and bestow safety to all that hold its personal emblem. The Dragons of China, and the rest of Asia for that matter, are most often seen as the ultimate symbol of divine protection and vigilance in the East. To this day, dragons are still regarded as the Supreme Being amongst all Asian creatures. Supremely representative of the forces of Mother Nature, ancient dragons were thought of as the greatest divine forces on Earth. Dragons are the angels of the Orient. Instead of being hated, they are truly loved and dutily worshipped.
The Dragon as Royal Advisors to Ancient Chinese Kings
Dragons are the emblem of the Chinese Emperor and the Imperial command, their legends still permeate Chinese civilization from the ancient times to today. The benevolence of the Eastern dragon is what signifies its greatness, goodness and positive blessings. The supreme wisdom of the dragon is what made them the best royal advisors of ancient Chinese culture throughout the centuries. In the thirteenth-century, a famous Cambodian king spent his nights in a great golden tower, where he consulted with the real ruler of the land, a nine-headed dragon. Even though they are wise, unfortunately Chinese dragons can be just as vain. Dragons have been known to feel insult when a ruler doesn't accept their advice, or when people do not honor, or respect, their importance or position. When they are upset, Chinese dragons may start thrashing about to either stop making rain, cause a water shortage, or they breathe black clouds that bring bad storms and flash floods. Small dragons do minor in comparison, but equally proportionate, deeds of mischief, such as making roofs leak for spite, or causing the rice of the Chinese people to be overly sticky. People set off firecrackers and carry immense paper dragon costumes to commemorate them in special parades throughout China every year. The Chinese also build and race dragon-shaped boats just to please and appease their resident water dwelling dragons.
Fire and Dragon Weather in the Orient
Dragons are said to possess the essence of life, in the form of what is known as the celestial breath, also referred to as "sheng chi", which are distinctly different than fire breathing Medieval dragons. Chinese dragons yield life and bestow their power in the form of the seasons, manifesting water directly from rain, warmth from the sunshine, wind from the seven seas, and soil from the surface of the Earth. In Asia, the Chinese, Japanese, and other peoples of the oriental Eastern countries have always had a high reverence for dragons - particularly horned and winged Chinese Lung dragons. Many temples were initially dedicated to the dragon with daily offerings left in hopes of obtaining favorable weather from the local dragons.
Inspiration in the Chinese Arts
Dragons occupy a very important position in Chinese mythology. They dominate the arts, literature, poetry, architecture, songs, and many other aspects of the Chinese conscience. The origin of Chinese dragons is still somewhat unknown, but they certainly pre-date the written word. Oriental artworks have probably reflected dragon subjects since before recorded history even began! Placing a Chinese dragon in your home, or wearing one on your body is considered good luck and proper feng shui.
The Worldwide Phenomena of Dragon Art
Chinese art work, such as a dragon sculptures and other dragon carvings, is usually hand made by some of the best artists in Asia. Their life and religious beliefs evolve around their artistic expressions. Chinese artists and Balinese artists use the Eastern Chinese dragon in almost all of their fine art. They take personal pride in every dragon artwork and masterpiece they make. The majority of art galleries and homes throughout the world are decorated with dragon artworks that were made by Chinese.
Zodiac Origins in the Year of the Dragon
According to Chinese legend, Buddha once summoned all the animals in the world to come to him. At the end of their long journey, only twelve animals had made it to the realm of the Buddha. They, in turn, became the Zodiacs. One of the animals that successfully completed the journey was the magnificent dragon. The Year of the Dragon takes place every twelve years, and is said to be the luckiest of all of the years. Early Chinese Dragons can be traced back to around 5,000 BC. Chinese folklore contains many tales where the Chinese are described as direct descendants of dragons. Most of the later phase Chinese dragons do not have wings, the only dragons that were thought to have wings were those that were over 1000 years old, a.k.a. millennium dragons.
Chinese Culture and the Year of the Dragon
Present-day Oriental astrologers claim that children born during Dragon Years enjoy the best of health, wealth, and live the longest lives. This is exactly why there are so many births in China during the year of the dragon - every twelve years. Celestial Chinese Dragons are symbols of the Chinese ethnicity and race itself. Chinese people located around the world proudly proclaim themselves as "Lung Tik Chuan Ren" (or "descendents of the dragon"). Chinese astrology categorizes people into different animal groupings according to the year of their birth. Each year is represented by a different animal over the complete 12 year cycle. Chinese calendar animals are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and the pig. People that were born in the following years are classified as dragons: 1904, 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, and incidentally the year 2012.
Dragons Fighting Evil Chinese Spirits
The Chinese people avidly celebrate nine different types of mythical dragons and they believe that they are themselves related to dragons, that they are dragon descendents. In China, even traditional New Year's Day parades also include groups of people, or performers, that wind through the streets wearing long interconnected red dragon costumes. The image of the dragon, according to ancient Chinese belief, prevents evil spirits from spoiling the New Year. Another traditional Chinese belief is that certain dragons have the power to control the rainfall required for each year's harvest. Imperial Dragons, or Lung, are considered to be the primary of four different benevolent spiritual animals, the other three being: the phoenix, the unicorn, and the tortoise. Chinese dragons, like the bearded dragon and the Komodo dragon lizards, are the real natural dragons that are more likely to exist in nature than many of the conjured up fantasy dragons.
Varieties of Chinese Dragons
The Nine major types of Chinese dragons are: the horned dragon, the winged dragon, the celestial dragon (which supports and protects the palace mansions of the gods), the spiritual dragon (which generates wind and rain for the benefit of humankind), the dragon of hidden treasures (which keeps and guards over concealed wealth), the coiling dragon (which lives in water), and the yellow dragon (which once emerged from the water and presented the legendary Emperor Fu Shi with the elements of writing). The last of the nine Chinese dragons is the dragon king, which actually consists of four separate dragons, which each ruls over a different one of the four seas, the oceans of the east, south, west, and north. However, the most powerful Chinese dragon is still the horned dragon, or lung, not only can produce rain, but ironically enough he is also totally deaf, without any hearing abilities. There is also a wandering homeless type of dragon (Ii) that lives in the ocean and another variety (chiao) that is scale-covered and usually inhabits marshes, and has dens tucked away in the mountains. There are also nine ways the Chinese have traditionally represented each dragon type having its own symbol revealing a different dragon characteristic. In particular, dragons are carved on the tops of bells and gongs, because of the beast's insatiable habit of calling out loudly when attacked.
Regional Lineage Based on the Number of Dragon Toes
Among the three families of Eastern dragons there are 3-toed, 4-oed, and 5-toed dragon sub-species. Three-toed dragons are Japanese, four-toed dragons are Indonesian (or Korean), and five-toed dragons are Chinese. Eastern dragons are represented in blue, black, white, red, and yellow colorations. Oriental dragons are usually shown with a pearl either in their mouth, under their chin, or clutched tightly in their claws. Pearls are apparently what gives dragons many of their amazing powers, and contribute directly to how they ascend the heavens. Among Chinese fishermen the story is that roasted swallows are the Chinese dragon's favorite food.
What Dragons are Made of...
The three dragon families with different numbers of toes may look similar, but they come from totally different parts of the Orient. In common, they all have sinuous serpentine bodies with four legs, but they do not usually breath fire, or have wings, except for the adult Imperial Dragon. Dragons are cryptically said to be made up of many types of animals from the Earth with the body of a snake, scales of a carp (fish), head of a camel, horns of a giant stag (deer), eyes of a hare (rabbit), ears like a bull, neck like an serpent, belly of a clam, paws like a tiger, and claws of an eagle. Most of the time they are shown with a lion-like mane around their neck, on their chin, and along the corners of their elbows. Oriental dragons have two antler-type horns that decorate the top of their wide-mouthed skull, and several long "feeler" whiskers spreading out from their protruding snout. Dragons of the Orient are said to have 117 scales, 81 of them infused with yang, good energy, and 36 infused with yin, bad energy. This is what is claimed helps to even out a dragon's temper and reptilian personality.
Where are the Reminents of the Chinese Dragon?
Dragons are a major part of Chinese culture and have been worshiped by the Chinese for thousands of years. They can be found in pottery, paintings, and are featured in many old Chinese stories and songs. Eastern dragons can be found throughout China and all of Asia, almost everywhere you look! Entire shrines have even been permanently dedicated to them. That just confirms that the Chinese people really just might be true "Descendents of Dragons."