Chinese Dragon – Why Do They Play Such An Important Role In Chinese Culture?

Barsbold Baatarsuren
Barsbold Baatarsuren Travel tips May 24 min read
Chinese Dragon – Why Do They Play Such An Important Role In Chinese Culture?

Chinese Dragon plays a very important role in the Chinese culture as they are considered to be very powerful symbols and are also considered to be lucky.

Dragons can be found in the mythologies of many ancient societies, but nowhere was the monster more venerated than in China.  In contrast to other global mythology, the dragon was virtually always shown in a good light there, and was especially associated with life-giving rains and water sources.

The dragon was ubiquitous in ancient China, and it still looms large in the Chinese mind today. It was worn on the robes of emperors, it was portrayed in the most valuable materials from gold jewelry to jade sculptures, and it had endless references in literature and the performing arts.

The Chinese dragon is one of the earliest creatures to emerge in ancient Chinese myths and legends, and is most commonly pictured as a massive and slender beast that dwells in either water or clouds.

 The Chinese dragon is extremely powerful, and it is frequently accompanied by lightning and thunder when it flies. All of these amazing facts makes the Chinese dragon more interesting to study about!

Although some historians imply a relationship with rainbows and a'serpent of the sky' observed after rain showers or near waterfalls, it is unknown when, by whom, and on what reality the dragon was first constructed. According to the famous legends of China, these Chinese Dragons are considered to control the rain phenomenon and are called to summon the rain in China. 

Dragons Are Found Everywhere in China

Legends, festivals, astrology, art, names, and idioms all feature dragons in China.

Chinese Dragons are regarded as lucky and good, in contrast to the nasty, dangerous, fire-breathing dragons that are depicted in most Western movies and stories.

Alternative descriptions include the body of a snake, the eyes of a rabbit, the belly of a frog, and the antlers of a deer, among other things. The dragon could also change its shape and size at will, as well as disappear and reappear wherever it pleased.

This extraordinary assemblage of monster parts, according to Chinese historian Wen Yiduo, was actually based on the political union of several separate tribes, each having a different animal as their totem. As a result, the Chinese dragon became a metaphor for the assimilation of numerous tribes into a unified nation. Although an intriguing theory, it does not account for the existence of dragons long before the arrival of humans.

Some Quick Facts Related To the Magnificent Chinese Dragon

  • Factually, Chinese dragons do not exist; there is no evidence that they are real creatures.
  • One of the twelve Chinese zodiac signs is the Dragon. And the children that are vorn in the year of the dragon are considered to be lucky. Wow!
  • In ancient China, emperors were thought to be the sons of dragons. Ordinary people were not allowed to own objects with dragon images on them at the time. Sounds Interesting, no?
  • Chinese dragons are considered lucky, prosperous, powerful, and honorable, rather than the monsters depicted in Western mythology. Now that is something different!
  • The majority of Chinese dragon paintings include lengthy bodies resembling snakes and sharp claws resembling hawks, making them look less like dinosaurs than Western dragons.
  • Chinese dragons can be found at the bottom of the sea, rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water. Isn’t that amazing?

Dragons Appear In Many Parts of Chinese Culture

Dragons appear in many parts of Chinese culture, from Chinese ancestor mythology to modern mascots, festival activities to astrology to idioms.

Ancestors Play a Huge Role in Chinese Culture

Yandi (a legendary tribal leader) was claimed to have been born thousands of years ago through his mother's telepathy with a powerful dragon. Yandi and Huangdi were considered ancestors of the Chinese people since they opened the prologue to Chinese civilization with the help of the dragon and partnered with Huangdi (a legendary tribal leader).

With the passage of time, Chinese people have begun to refer to themselves as descendants of Yandi and Huangdi, as well as Chinese dragon descendants.

'Unrelenting and pioneering' spirit

From ancient times to the present, the Chinese dragon has evolved from a fictional prodigy to a mascot. It symbolizes the Chinese people's unwavering and forward-thinking spirit in keeping up with the times.

The dragon is not only popular in China, but also among Chinese people living in other countries; it has become a popular symbol of China and Chinese culture.

Festivals and Celebrations are associated with The Chinese Dragon

Dance of the Dragon: Many festivities, such as Chinese New Year, feature the dragon dance. A long dragon, up to 70 meters long, is usually constructed with bamboo hoops draped in glittering cloth and held by dancers.

chinese dragon festival

Racing dragon boats: Dragon boats are designed to look like Chinese dragons. During the traditional Dragon Boat Festival, this activity normally draws a large crowd to appreciate the culture.

The 9 Types of Chinese Dragons

The dragon has nine sons, each with a different personality, according to Chinese mythology, and their depictions are frequently utilized in architectural ornamentation, particularly in royal buildings. The nine sons are frequently depicted in architectural decorations and artworks.

  • Bixi (Bx /bee-sshee/) – oldest, turtle-shaped with sharp teeth, fond to carrying heavy objects; frequently found on gravestones and monuments.
  • Qiuniu (/chyoh-nyoh/) is a yellow scaly dragon that enjoys and excels at music. She frequently adorns musical instruments.
  • Yazi (Yáz /yaa-dzrr/) – a snake with a leopard head who enjoys fighting and killing; typically used to embellish sword grips.
  • Chaofeng (Cháofng /chaoww-fnng/) — naturally daring; frequently adorns palace roof ridges.
  • Pulao (Pláo /poo-laoww/) Is a type of pulao that is notable for its loud wailing and is frequently found on bell handles.
  • Chiwen (chwn /chrr-wnn/) – a marine creature with a gruff voice who enjoys consuming things; frequently found on palace ridgepole ends.
  • Bi'an (B'àn /bee-an/) is a lawyer who frequently appears outside jail gates.
  • Suanni (/swann-nee/) is a fictional character. — lion-shaped, enjoys sitting cross-legged and sniffing incense; frequently found near Buddhist temple incense burners and seats
  • Fuxi (/foo-sshee/) – most Chinese dragon-like figures; frequently found on stone tablets.

The Forbidden City and other ancient imperial structures

Emperors' sovereignty is symbolized by the Chinese dragon, and everything associated to it was reserved for emperors in Chinese feudal culture. The ancient rulers referred to their sons as "dragon seeds," wearing "dragon robes" and sitting in "dragon chairs."

Forbidden City

When you enter the Forbidden City, you'll notice Chinese dragons almost everywhere: the nine sons of the dragon on the golden dome, on the stone floor, on the royal chair design, on pillars and handrails, and so on.

Imperial Robes and Museum Artifacts Embroidery

Many imperial garments embroidered with Chinese dragons can be found in Chinese museums containing old treasures.

Because they all seem the same, you might find them dull. However, if you look closely at each dragon's colour, number of toes, and gestures, you'll notice that they're all distinctive.

The pattern of the dragon on an emperor's robe has four paws with five toes on each, whereas the pattern on a vassal's robe only has four toes on each paw, emphasizing the ancient emperors' superiority.

If you're a fan of the Cannes Film Festival, you may recall that Fan Bingbing, a Chinese actress, once walked the red carpet in a stunning garment featuring Chinese dragon embroidery.

The Chinese Zodiac

The dragon is also the Chinese Zodiac's fifth animal. The dragon's cherished attributes, such as intelligence, pride, and ambition, are said to be possessed by those born in the year of the dragon. Arrogance and impulsivity are two possible weaknesses of this Chinese zodiac sign. 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, and 2012 were the dragon years of the previous century, and the next one will be in 2024.

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