Chinese "Dragon" Culture
When it comes to "dragon", I believe everyone is familiar with it.Dragons are deeply rooted in Chinese culture, as the dragon is one of the most important creatures that can symbolize China. However, dragons are generally regarded as a symbol of evil and inauspiciousness in Western culture, so when Chinese people say that they are "descendants of the dragon", Westerners may not understand it. Therefore, understanding the differences between dragons in Chinese and Western cultures can better help us understand Chinese culture.
In China, the dragon is called lóng (dragon), and it is a legendary creature in Chinese mythology and Chinese folklore. In Chinese mythology, a lóng (dragon) has antlers, a camel's head, rabbit eyes, a snake neck, carp scales, eagle claws, tiger paws and bull ears. Dragons have traditionally symbolized powerful and auspicious forces, especially the control of water, rainfall, typhoons and floods. In Chinese culture, good and outstanding people are compared to dragons, while incompetent and unachievable people are compared to other undesirable creatures. Many Chinese proverbs and idioms refer to dragons and other undesirable creatures, such as "wàng zǐ chéng lóng"① and "dǎn xiǎo rú shǔ"②.(① means that you want your children to be as good as dragons.② means Timid like a mouse.)
- Power and authority
In Chinese fairy tales, dragons can ascend to heaven,riding the clouds and driving the fog, representing upward and positive energy. That's why the dragon is a symbol of success, high achievement and prosperity in Chinese eyes.
For the Chinese nation, the dragon represents justice. In Chinese folklore, the third son of the Dragon King of the East China Sea violated the laws of heaven by raining on a village without the permission of the Jade Emperor (the supreme emperor). He did this because he couldn't bear to watch what the drought in the land had done to the locals. To commemorate him, people set up February 2nd Festival (èr yuè èr jiéFebruary 2nd Festival), which is a traditional Chinese festival held on the second day of the second month of the lunar calendar. It also has a name: Longtaitou (lóng tái tóu龙抬头) festival. Longtaitou means "dragon raises its head".
- Wealth is auspicious
Dragons are always associated with water in China. In Chinese legends, the Dragon King is believed to be the ruler of weather and water, such as rainfall, waterfalls, rivers and oceans. In ancient agricultural societies, abundant water sources often meant abundant grains, so dragons were also associated with abundant grains and a prosperous and comfortable life.
What does the dragon symbolize in the West?
In the West, the image of the dragon is quite different from that of the Chinese dragon. In Western culture, dragons are not good luck, but fire-breathing monsters. The western dragon is more of a villain, a savage monster, which makes the heroes who defeat and slay the dragon heroic. Just like in the Apocalypse, Satan appears as the great red dragon.
The difference between Chinese dragons and Western dragons is just a microcosm of the cultural differences between China and the West. Follow us to learn more interesting Chinese cultural knowledge!