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Legends of dragon

Legends

  How much do you know about dragon? Let the Dragon Seekers give you an explanation!


The dragon is the head of Four Spirit Beasts -direction deity

  In the traditional Han culture, dragon is the head of the “Four Spirit Beasts” (dragon, phoenix, turtle, and tiger) and “Four Direction Deities” (Azure Dragon, White Tiger, Vermilion Bird and Black Tortoise). After the Han Dynasty, Azure Dragon, White Tiger, Vermilion Bird and Black Tortoise were taken as the main guardian deities in the four directions of east, west, south and north. After the rising of Taoism, Azure Dragon and White Tiger also became the important Dharmapalas, known as the “Azure Dragon Star Deity” and “White Tiger Star Deity” respectively. Moreover, their images were sculptured and painted on the walls at both sides of Taoist temple’s front hall and regarded as the important guarding power of temple equivalent to the position of door deity. People call the walls “dragon wall and tiger wall”. However, since the direction of temple is not fixed due to the actual circumstances, there goes another kind of definition: Left Azure Dragon, Right White Tiger, Front Vermilion Bird and Back Black Tortoise.

▲ Left Azure Dragon(East) ▲ Right White Tiger (West) ▲ Front Vermilion Bird (South) ▲ Back Black Tortoise (North)
(Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers)
(Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers)
(Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers)
(Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers)

▲ Figure 2-1-5 :Changhua Fenyuan Baozang Temple (county level historic sites): the painted clay sculptures of left dragon wall and right tiger wall are the guardian deities of temple gate, possessing the same guarding function of the door deity. (Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers)

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The dragon is the head of the twelve Chinese zodiac animals

  With the numerology point of view, The Chinese calculate the years by taking 12 years as a cycle and 12 animals to represent the years and can also calculate out the personal fortune, which is called the Twelve Chinese Zodiac Animals. Although not ranking the first in the Twelve Chinese Zodiac Animals, the dragon can still be regarded as the head out of the following reasons:

1.The other 11 Chinese Zodiac Animals are all animals actually exist and only the dragon is a created mythical animal. Although the mythical animal is sourced from animals, it is superior to all animals and has a supreme position in China's belief.

2.Most of the other animals in the Twelve Chinese Zodiac Animals are the fusion objects of dragon: in the Chinese belief, the dragon has the ability of germinating all things on earth, being both the creator of all things on earth and a combination of multiple animals as well.

3.The Chinese use the dragon to represent the most important time of a day or the most important month of a year: The dragon corresponds to Chen Shi (the period from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.) of the day and the spring March of the year. At Chen Shi, the sun rises bring vigor and vitality to the world; and in the spring March, all things on earth begin to germinate and the farm work begins: both time is very important as it goes that “A day’s plan starts in the morning and a year's plan starts with spring.”.

▲Figure 2-1-6 : Twelve Chinese Zodiac Animals (Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers) ▲Figure 2-1-7 : Five-claw Golden Dragon-Koji Pottery (Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers)

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The dragon is the representation of water belief

  Water is one of the three elements to life. The ancient humans struggled hard with the nature environment where the acquisition of water resources was the biggest challenge to existence and crop harvest. The animals seen at the time of heavy rain or flood were easily worshipped by people as water god deities, such as snake, crocodile, turtle and other reptiles. The water deities used for sacrifice offering ceremony in praying for rain in ancient were often in the images of these animals. The Chinese dragon is a water deity but also a guardian deity of Chinese nation, having the power of praying for rain and even swallowing fire and spitting water and guarding people’s life and property safety. People believed since ancient times that the dragon could summon clouds to rain; and the rainwater is necessary to farming. As a result, the Chinese took the dragon as a mythical animal and hoped to get rain by way of worshipping and offering sacrifice to the dragon. This is the origin of the later sacrifice offering ceremony to dragon deity employed by Han people.


▲ Figure 2-1-8 :Emperor Zhenwu, Chinese Water Deity/Koji Pottery (Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers) ▲Figure 2-1-9 :Emperor Zhenwu Stepping on Turtle and Snake (Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers)

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The dragon is the symbol of monarch

  In ancient mythology, the dragon is also the holy-animal mount of monarchs and deities. It is mentioned in the Records of the Grand Historian. Book of Worship of Heaven that Yellow Emperor rode a dragon to heaven after casting a Ding. In addition, there are also many statements about deities riding dragons in the Classic of Mountains and Seas. Thus it can be seen that, the dragon has some extraordinary and mystical psychic power and close connection with the Emperor of Heaven and deities. As a result, many outstanding historical figures in ancient China were alleged to be the descendants of the mystical dragon by drawing a forced analogy.

  Why the monarchs of Han nation were fond of the dragon particularly? It turns out to be that since the Qin and Han dynasties, the emperors of past dynasties mostly declared themselves to be a “real dragon”, and after that the dragon gradually became the monarch’s authority power and the representative of identity. The dragon’s position jumped from the mythical animal worship in the ancient times to a symbol of noble position in the real world. In myths and legends, the Chinese emperors had the superpower to control dragons where Yellow Emperor could drive the dragon to assistant in fighting, Yu the Great of the Xia Dynasty could let the dragon tame floods and the Xia Dynasty was also known as the dragon nation. The Oracle character of Yu means the dragon head. Moreover, the Chinese emperors of past dynasties declared that they acted under the Mandate of Heaven because of their royal bloods connected with the dragon so as to consolidate their dominion. The dragon became a national symbolic totem. Since then, the Chinese nation declared them to be the descendants of dragon.


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