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Dragon Culture of civilians

Legal Restrictions

  "Two-horn five-claw snake-shaped dragon" is a symbol of imperial power, and civilians are prohibited from using it. Violating the taboo of the emperors is regarded as rebellion and will be killed. In the feudal times, Chinese civilians were subject to legal constraints and restrained the use of dragon ornamentation. Investigations found that the civilian residential housing only uses half-dragon holy animal which does not look like the dragon such as Chi Tiger and fish dragon (Ao Dragon). But only officials with an official rank used such animal which was rarely seen in civilians'.


(Source: Tables Prepared by Dragon Seekers)


Fish Dragon Presented by Emperors

  All three old-age civilian residential housings are houses in the Qing Dynasty, but the Ao Dragon is only found in the Wufeng Lin Family Mansion of Junior, guardian deity of the Heir Apparent. Wu Feng Lin Family was rewarded by the emperors of the Qing Dynasty owing to battle achievements, and became one of the most influential families in the Taiwan society in the ruling of the Qing Dynasty. Legend has it that the ancient emperors would reward the Ao Dragon sculptures to the officials with official rank. In the Qing Qianlong Period, a child named Wei-lu Chang was born in a family with the surname of Chang in Taiwan. Wei-lu Chang was born crippled, but was very intelligent. After growing up, he sat the civil examination in the capital and became a successful candidate in the highest imperial examination of "六部橋頭". Emperor Qianlong in the Qing Dynasty gave him the title "Chunyi", a robe, four fish dragon carvings and two flags of imperial scholar, and conferred the official title of "待贈衛守府". Wei-lu Chang was called the "lame imperial scholar".


   The offspring of Wufeng Lin Family, Wen-cha Lin, was a rare Taiwanese first-rank military officer in the Qing Dynasty (the other military officer is Te-lu Wang, Minzhe Admiral in the Qing Jiaqing Period and only two people holding such an official rank) Wen-cha Lin died for the destruction of the Taiping Rebellion in Wansongguan, Zhangzhou. The Qing Tongzhi decreed and awarded him as "Junior Guardian Deity of the Heir Apparent" and presented the plaque of "Mansion of Junior Guardian Deity of the Heir Apparent". Wufeng Mansion of Junior Guardian Deity of the Heir Apparent was constructed in the mid-19th century, and is the largest existing official residence of the Qing Dynasty in Taiwan. It covers 11 widths of a room and has a mansion with five entrances. According to Mr. Lin, the head of the Wufeng Lin Family Mansion of Junior guardian deity of the Heir Apparent, the mansion's size and style were second to none in Taiwan's buildings, and also exceeded the ritual rules that "The heaven is high and the emperor is far away". The mansion mirrors the styles and features of politics, economy, society and folk custom since the Qing Dynasty in Taiwan.


▲ Figure 4-4-1 : Entrance door of Wufeng Lin Family "Mansion of Junior guardian deity of the Heir Apparent" ( Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers ) ▲Figure 4-4-2 :Window carvings of Wufeng Lin Family Chi-Tiger-Surrounded Incense Burner ( Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers )
▲ Figure 4-4-3 : Wufeng Lin Family Ao Dragon ( Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers ) ▲Figure 4-4-4 :Wufeng Lin Family Chi Tiger arch( Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers )
▲ Figure 4-4-5 : Roles conferred to Wufeng Lin Family by the emperor with a 'Kylin" image indicating first-rank military officer embroidered on it ( Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers ) ▲Figure 4-4-6 :Dragon ornamentation on the plague of "Mansion of Junior  guardian deity of the Heir Apparent" conferred by the emperor to Wufeng Lin Family (Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers )


Civilians' guardian deity-Chi Tiger

In addition to the imperial household and deities, ordinary civilians cannot use dragon ornamentation, so they used Chi Tiger carving decoration instead. This conclusion was also proved in our investigation into the old civilian residential housing in the Qing Dynasty. We note Chi Tiger patterns in the Imperial Scholar plaque of the Lukang Ding Family and no decorations in the First-degree Scholar plaque of Xiushui Chan Family. Both families built the plagues on their own. Different from the "Mansion of Junior guardian deity of the Heir Apparent" awarded by the emperor to Wufeng Lin Family due to battle achievements, the dragon ornamentation on the "Mansion of Junior guardian deity of the Heir Apparent" suggests the emperor's reward and grace. The characteristics of civilians' dragon culture can be observed.


Imperial Scholar Housing of Lukang Ding Family

▲ Figure 4-4-7 : Imperial Scholar Housing of Lukang Ding Family ( Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers ) ▲Figure 4-4-8 :The Imperial Scholar and Deacon Template of Baisha Academy which indicate scholarly honor or official rank in Lukang Ding Family ( Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers )
▲ Figure 4-4-9 : Imperial Scholar plaque - Mansion of Lukang Ding Family ( Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers ) ▲Figure 4-4-10 :This plaque was established by Ding Family itself and used "Chi Tiger" ornamentation only ource: Photo by Dragon Seekers )

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Ancient Housing in Yiyuan, Xiushui

▲ Figure 4-4-11 : Ancient Housing in Yiyuan, Xiushui; a window carving of "Chi Tiger Furnace" at the entrance (Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers ) ▲Figure 4-4-12 :Ancient Housing in Yiyuan, Xiushui; the "Plaque of First-degree Scholar" established by Chan Family does not have any pattern( Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers )
▲ Figure 4-4-13 :Ancient Housing in Yiyuan, Xiushui; the blue flags with round board representing the owner's official title and official honor( Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers ) ▲Figure 4-4-14 :Ancient Housing in Yiyuan, Xiushui; house and flagpole of "First-degree Scholar" in the square ( Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers )

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Trace of Dragons in Changhua - Meet the Dragon through Time  / Team:Dragon Seekers
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