Topic 10. Chinese Dragon Culture

Topic 10. Chinese Dragon Culture
I. European Dragons
II. Chinese Dragons’ Origin
and its Image
III. Many Symbols of Dragon
IV. Dragon and idioms
I. European Dragons
European dragons
– They are legendary creatures in folklore and
– Two implications
Dragon is usually portrayed as evil in many countries
– Aggrasive and warlike
In some countries it is portrayed as hero
– It is National symbol of Wels
It is part of the national flag
– It is seen as a protector of Slovenia
Features of European dragons
– Many modern stories represent dragons as
extremely intelligent creatures
They can talk, associated with powerful magic.
– In the modern period the dragon is typically
depicted as
a huge fire-breathing, scaly and horned
dinosaur-like creature, with two big wings, four legs
and a long muscular tail
II. Chinese Dragons’ Origin and its
Origin of the concept of dragon
– Chinese dragons are legendary creatures in
Chinese mythology and folklore
– History
It originated with the Yellow Emperor( 2696 - 2598
Some scholars believe that it originated from totems
of different tribes in China
It was imagened as a giant with super-natural force
– Ancient people did not understand thunders, bolts, floods,
storms and tsunamis
– It was thought the natural phenomenon were controlled by
The C-shaped
jade dragon of
– It was
unearthed in
Liaoning, China
– It dated from
about 4700 BC
to 2900 BC
– Earliest totem
Changes of the shape of dragon
Shape of dragon
– Dragon is
composed of
parts from some
the horns of a
The mouth of a
the body of a
the scales of a fish;
the claws of an
the ears of an ox.
III. Many Symbols of Chinese
Symbol of strong force
– Ruler of weather and sea water
Many natural phenomenon were controlled by dragon
Thunders, bolts, floods, storms and tsunamis
– According to mythologic story, it is called the kings
of the sea dragons (海龙王)
There were four 海龙王
They lived in the dragon palaces under oceans
They were worshiped by the people to beg rain fall, stop
floods, etc
Symbol of power and authority
– Chinese emperors thought they were the real
dragons and the sons of the heaven(真龙天
– Dragon bed龙床
– Dragon chair龙椅
– Dragon robe龙袍
– Dragon body 龙体; “龙体欠安”
– Dragon son 龙子
– Also dragons can be seen on the buildings in
the imperial palace.
Symbol of Chinese nation
– All people in China, including the emperor,
prostrated themselves before the image of a
dragon with reverence and awe.
– This unreal animal became the spiritual
– Dragon is symbol of China
– Dragon on the national flag of the last feudal
dynasty, the Qing Dynasty.
– The dragon is always used in the West as a
national symbol of China
Talking about two Asian powers, China and India
rising up, it is always maintioned that dragon and
elephant are competing
– Officially this usage is not common in China.
– In European-influenced cultures, the dragon
has aggressive and warlike implication
Chinese government avoid using it as a symbol of
– West media use it in both goodwill and illintention
“Descendants of the dragon” (龙的传人)
– It is the same as “ descendants of Yan and
Huang” (炎黄子孙)
– The earliest Emperors Yan Di and Huang Di
were closely related to dragon
The first legendary Emperor, Huang Di, was said to
have been immortalized into a dragon that went to
The other legendary Emperor, Yan Di was born by
his mother's telepathy with a mythic dragon.
So the Chinese consider Huang Di and Yan Di as
their ancestors, "the descendants of the dragon".
Auspicious symbol
– Some Chinese
– Bring good news to
Chinese unicorn
– The Chinese
unicorn is named
as Qilin(麒麟)
too. The Chinese
unicorn is a lucky
animal in China’s
ancient legend.
– It symbolizes
peace and
longevity in China.
– It is the
symbol of
long life.
The people
often paint
crane and
tall pine
together in
– The lion is the most
common in the
Chinese lucky
– There are often two
stone lions in front
of the gate of
palace and local
– The male lion is on
the left, the female
lion is on the right.
The male lion
symbolizes the
the female lion
symbolizes future
Pi Xiu
– It bring the wealth to you.
and it will protect its
master wholeheartedly
– It can counteract evil
force and bring the
wealth and good luck to
its master.
– It has the mouth, but no
the anus. It regards
jewel, gold and silver as
food. it only eats money,
and does not excrete.
– So the businessman
often puts Pi Xiu in the
company or home in
China. It is said the
richest man Li Jiacheng
(李嘉诚)in Hong
Kong has 888 Pi Xiu.
Dragon and phoenix (凤凰)
– Dragon and phoenix is the auspicious animal in the
Chinese legend.
– They symbolize auspicious, joyous and noble.
– The dragon and phoenix pattern is generally used in the
Chinese wedding celebration.
– Both bridegroom and bride happy 龙凤呈祥
– Dragon symbolizes male; Phoenix symbolizes female
– They symbolize couple harmoniously, the marriage is
– Son in law 乘龙快婿
– Pregnant with son and daughter 龙凤胎
– Dragon Year: auspicious
Symbol of ability and success
– 望子成龙
– 北大一条虫,出去一条龙
Dragon vs. worm 虫
IV. Nine Dragons Wall(九龙壁)
There are three nine-dragon walls in China
– The biggest and oldest one, located in Datong,
It was built in Liao Kingdom (916~1125 A.D);
– The most sophisticated and beautiful one is the one in
the Beihai (North Sea) Park in Beijing;
– The third one is in front of the Ningyong Gate in the
Forbidden City
Shape of the dragons
– Each dragon is playing with a unique jewelry ball.
– The dragons were painted in different colors with
three dimension, and were handcrafted with the
highest level of workmanship.
The Nine Dragon Wall in Bei Hai Park
– After hundreds of years the colors of the
ceramic tiles remain brilliant.
The wall was built in 1756.
It is 21m long, about 15m high and 1.2m thick.
It is faced with 424 7-color ceramic tiles.
– There is a giant dragon at the center of the
It is flanked by four dragons on each side.
In addition to these nine large dragons, the wall is
covered from edge to edge with many smaller
There are 635 dragons in all.
V. Dragon in Traditional Festivals
The dragon also plays an important part in
Chinese festivals, especially in Chinese N.Y.
The Dragon Dance
– itself originated during the Han Dynasty and was
started by the Chinese who had shown great belief
and respect towards the dragon.
– It is believed to have begun as part of the farming
and harvest culture, also with origins as a method of
healing and preventing sickness.
– It was already a popular event during the Song
It had become a folk activity and like the lion dance, was
most often seen in festive celebrations
– Dragon Dance has spread throughout China and to
the whole world.
It becomes a special performance of arts in the Chinese
physical activities.
It symbolizes the bringing of good luck and prosperity in
the year to come.
In the Qing Dynasty, the Dragon Dance team of the
province of Foochow had been invited to perform in
Peking and had been greatly praised and admired by the
Qing Emperor, which earned great fame for the team
Since then, dragon dance was getting more and more
The dragon dance is a highlight of Chinese New Year
It was held worldwide in Chinatowns around the world.
– The Dragon Boat Festival龙舟节
This festival is celebrated on 5th of fifth lunar month
It is also called Duanwu Festival 端午节
The Chinese Dragon Boat Festival is a significant
holiday celebrated in China
It has a longest history.
The Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated by boat
races in the shape of dragons.
– Competing teams row their boats forward with a
drumbeat, racing to reach the finish end
It is almost purely dragon-related festival, which
becomes popular international events now.
The boating is traditional custom to attempt to
commemorate patriotic poet Qu Yuan (屈原)
– He drowned on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month in
277 B.C.
– When people were seeing his drowning, they rowed
boats to rescue he
– Later, on this day every year, dragon race was held
– Chinese citizens now throw bamboo leaves filled with
cooked rice into the water so that the fish could eat the
rice rather than Qu Yuan’s body.
– Today, to celebrate this festival, there are three things to
Dragon boat race
Eat 粽子
Qu Yuan
– It served as minister to the Chou Emperor during the
Warring State period.
– He did much to fight against political corruption in the
court-- thereby earning the envy and fear of other officials
– Therefore, when he urged the emperor to avoid conflict
with the Qin Kingdom, the officials pressured the
Emperor to have him removed from service.
– In exile, he traveled, taught and wrote for several years
– Hearing that the Zhou had been defeated by the Qin, he
fell into despair and threw himself into a River.
VI. Dragon and idioms
– “Lord Ye's Love of Dragons” or “Mr. Ye loves dragon”
– It means that somebody would not really like
something, but he orally always says he like it very,
very much.
– Lord Ye says he loves dragons deeply.
He had dragons everywhere in his home.
He drew dragons on walls, sculptured dragons on pillars, put
dragons on tables and everywhere
He was thinking of dragons all the time.
– One day, his love of dragons moved a real dragon, so
the dragon came to visit him.
– When he saw the real dragon, he was frightened to
– It is to describe somebody’s Chinese
calligraphy. Two meanings
Caoshu (草书): praise
Kaishu (楷书): criticize or satirize
– Describe a occasion or a scene very active
– 腾、跃:move, act and jump up and down
quickly like dragon and phoenix
– Similar to above
– Describe persons with active energy
Dragons in Thai social life?
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