All You Need to Know about Dragons in Chinese Culture

Chinese culture is one of the most interesting cultures in the world. Belonging to the commercial and economic giant China, the Chinese culture holds many things that are different from the rest of the world. This is why it presents such an interest for travelers, visitors, and culture enthusiasts throughout the world. 

One thing that is distinct and unique in Chinese culture is dragons.

According to Chinese culture, the dragon sign is a symbol of good luck and wealth. Additionally, to Chinese people, it is also considered as one of the four most intelligent creatures amongst unicorn, phoenix, and tortoise. Maybe this is the reason why Chinese rulers and emperors have been emulating dragons since the very start of civilization. In China, the dragon is considered legendary a animal, and its sign has been used to display power in China for a very long time. The extent of importance that the Chinese place on dragons can be judged by the prediction pointing out that the year 2020 will be a lucky one for Dragons, with an excellent development in their professions. 

Dragons and China—some amazing facts

The Dragon is a significant sign, not only in China but globally as well. In China, dragons represent power, leadership, and wealth. Let’s look at some of the amazing facts surrounding dragons in Chinese culture.

Chinese dragons come in many different forms

The philosopher Wang Fu defined the dragon as a blend of numerous animals almost 2000 years ago.  People usually take Chinese dragons as some snake-like creature. But actually, it is more like fish and turtles.

Chinese dragons control the weather

Dragons represent both evil and good, which means sometimes they are blamed for the occurrence of natural disasters.  They have been considered responsible for harsh storms, floods, and tidal waves. Today, anyone can visit the shrines that were built in the honor of dragons. For instance, the “Green Dragon Temple” also known as “Qing long Temple” is situated near “Xi’an” city which was built to honor the dragons. 

Emperors were believed to have descended from dragons

A legendary popular hero named “Fu Xi” was credited with creating the first human dragon. He was described as a man with a human head and the body of a dragon. At the beginning of the Chinese dynasty (c. 2000 BCE), he was considered as one of the first three sovereigns. Additionally, all the way through the imperial age, only the royal leaders and their families were supposed to wear the official colors of the dragon. For instance, the color apricot was used by the crown prince, golden yellow was for the emperor’s other wives and yellow color was for the emperors and empress.

 Dragons are born in China every 12 years

Chinese Zodiac revolves around twelve different creatures consisting of equal but dissimilar qualities. Usually, Chinese people plan their pregnancies so that kids will be born in the dragon year. This fortunate year is said to be the birth year of influencers and rulers. The last dragon kid was believed to have been born in 2012 and the next in the year 2024. 

 In China, dragons paddle and dance at festivals

In China “Dragon Boat Festival” is held, in which dragon decorated boat races through the waters and this festival takes place in many cities of China. The decorated boats consist of long dragon tails, carved dragon heads and these boats are long enough for carrying 20 paddlers. People can also witness a dragon dance during the Chinese New Year. The dance goes along with drums, drama, and music as well. It is believed that evil spirits are afraid of aggressive dance and loud noises. In this festival, a team of dancers manipulates wood puppets and the cloth of a dragon too.

Dragon sons protect places and implements

Chinese believed that there are nine dragon sons, charged with certain traits for protecting belongings and houses. With the help of old Chinese sites, anyone is able to see these entire nine dragon sons featured prominently today. 

 Many historical leaders were born in the Year of the Dragon

Little Dragon or Bruce Lee, Li (November 27th, 1940), Deng Xiaoping (August 22nd, 1904), Martin Luther King (January the 15th 1929) and Vladimir Putin (October the 7th 1952) all of these legends were born in the Dragon year. 

The dragon is the subject of many Chinese idioms

There are some proverbs and idioms in Chinese that revolve totally around dragons: For example:

  • 龙争虎斗 (lóng zhēng hǔ dòu): Literally “a fight between a dragon and a tiger”, it refers to a struggle between two similarly matched forces.
  • 人中之龙 (rén zhōng zhī lóng): “A dragon among men” is used to describe an exceptional, unmatched talent.
  • 群龙无首 (qún lóng wú shǒu): “A group of dragons, but no leader” refers to a group that needs a leader.
  • 望子成龙 (wàng zǐ chéng lóng): “To wish your son becomes a dragon” refers to parents hoping for their kids to succeed.
  • 画龙点睛 (huà lóng diǎn jīng): “Paint the dragon, dot the eyes” means adding the finishing touch to something.

“Leaping over the dragon gate” means success

According to Chinese culture, a carp that can leap over the “mythical Dragon Gate” will become dragons. Unfortunately, none has been able to find the dragon gate. But Chinese say that out of these countless Chinese waterfalls there is one that leads to this sacred gate, for instance, the Jiulong Waterfalls, also known as the Pearl Shoal Waterfall or the Black Dragon Pool Waterfall or Nine Dragon Waterfalls. 

China is home to most places named after dragons:

The name ‘dragon’ conjures up attractive vibes for anyone in the world. The travelers and visitors to Hong Kong can experience this when they go for a hike on the Dragon’s Back trail. Although there are no dragons to view there, the scenic beauty of the place is sure to fill a person with wonder. Moreover, other places such as Longsheng Dragon’s Back Terraces offers a sloping surface that resembles the body of a dragon and is a popular tourist attraction liked by many.

The Last Word

To people residing in the West, a dragon may be a symbol of evil, depicting fury and rage. But in China, it is one of the most popular and powerful symbols. This is the reason why the Chinese rely so much on this symbol and hold it in such high esteem. Nevertheless, a person visiting China is sure to have a good time exploring and learning more about the Chinese dragons and their history as it goes way back into old times. 

Read More
Antonia January 7, 2021 0 Comments