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Images of dragon



Chinese Jurassic

  After finding out the origin of the legends of dragon, we wanted to further explore the images of dragon. Kai-chi Chang mentioned in the book of Chinese Jurassic—Discovery of the Mystery of Dragon that the character [Dragon] in Chinese ancient writing has a realistic image of the dinosaur existing more than 10 million years ago. But in the belief legends, the dragon shows another totem-type mythical power. Therefore, the images of dragon are represented in various ways in China, which could be very realistic and could also be mythical belief legends, not only being seen in daily life, but also representing a symbol of identity and class in the ancient feudal period!

▲ Figure 2_2_01 : the character [Dragon] in Chinese ancient writing of Oracle ( Source :Provided by Chang, K.C. (1997). Chinese Jurassic—Discovery of the Mystery of Dragon. ) ▲ Figure 2_2_04: the character [Dragon] in Chinese ancient writing / Tyrannosaurus ( Source :Provided by Chang, K.C. (1997). Chinese Jurassic—Discovery of the Mystery of Dragon. )
▲ Figure 2_2_02 : the character [Dragon] in Chinese ancient writing / Protoceratops ( Source :Provided by Chang, K.C. (1997). Chinese Jurassic—Discovery of the Mystery of Dragon. ) ▲ Figure 2_2_03 : Protoceratops ( Source :Provided by Chang, K.C. (1997). Chinese Jurassic—Discovery of the Mystery of Dragon. )


Dragon Image Classification

   In general, there are two kinds of dragon image classification. One is the image in writing, and the other is the totem  of mythical belief. The latter is the main object of this research.

Dragon Totem of Mythical Belief

 We found out by synthesizing the statements of scholars of each school (animal theory, natural phenomenon theory, totem theory) that the mythical dragon is a totem created by the Chinese nation, a belief of animal totem worshipped by people and also a kind of mythical spirit beast created originated from the ancient people’s worship to the reptiles like [snake]. Among the deities of the Chinese ancient book of Classic of Mountains and Seas, many deities are described as in an image of having a human head and snake body. Also, the Solar Deity Fuxi, also known as “Ancestor of the Dragon”, and Lunar Deity Nuwa in the story of Nuwa Creating Man and Woman are also in the human head and snake body image. Moreover, in the Chinese ancient writing of Oracle, dragon and snake are the same character (dragon and snake are the same), which can be a strong evidence.



▲ Figure 2-2-2 :A brick carving a century ago in Sichuan, China, representing the scene of human-head and snake-body Solar Deity Fuxi and Lunar Deity Nuwa recreating men and women after a flood (Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers) Figure2-2-3 :Chinese Han Brick – Human-head and Snake-body Solar Deity Fuxi Known as “Ancestor of the Dragon” and Lunar Deity Nuwa (Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers)

Combination of Multiple Animals

   The image of Chinese dragon was finally developed into a combination of multiple animals. The traces of snake, crocodile, horse, cattle, pig, lion, tiger, eagle, dog, catfish, shrimp and other animals can be found on the totem. The other theory regards that the dragon’s trace can also be found in the tornado, cloud, lightning and polar light in the nature.


Figure 2-2-4 :The dragon was finalized by taking the appearances from nine animals. (Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers)

Seeing the head of the mystical dragon but not its tail.

   The dragon is a holy animal created by the Chinese. No one has seen it. How is it created?

1.Totem theory: The Chinese nation was a fusion of multiple ethnic groups; as a result, the dragon was also pieced together by the totems worshipped by a number of ethnic lines.

2.Combined sacrifice offering theory: According to the research by Jin Pang, a dragon doctor in the Mainland China, the pictographic character “dragon” in the Chinese Oracle is close related with the sacrifice offering. The dragon was the medium between human and deities. The ancient people would offer the closest and most precious animals to them in their environment to the deities. Thus the mythical animal in combination of the real animals and dragon was generated. Accordingly, the cultural relics or totems of horse dragon, deer dragon, pig dragon, tiger dragon and fish dragon appeared in the archaeological discoveries in the Mainland China.


Figure 2-2-5Kaohsiung Diyuan Temple roof ridge, the long-nose “elephant dragon”, the combination of the animal worshipped and the dragon /it is said the elephant is the embodiment of the Buddha(Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers) Figure 2-2-6:Elephant dragon totem of Buddhist temple gable wall/the dragons of different places are different due to the social environment (Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers)
Figure 2-2-7:C-shaped Jade Dragon of Hongshan Culture/some scholars think it is a horse dragon( Source: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS Public Domain / Author whelelapn ) Figure 2-2-8:Pig Dragon Ornamentation/ Inner Mongolia Xiaoshan pottery Zun with pig dragon ornamentation (Zhaobaogou Culture) (“The Charm of Dragon” drew by Dragon Seekers- by Jin Pang/picture of pig dragon ornamentation)

Figure 2-2-9:Nine Dragons Bathing Prince Siddhartha Niche - Dazu Grottoes /Chinese Southern Song Dynasty (1174~1252), after Buddhism introduced from India to China since the Han Dynasty (2~1 Century B.C.), the “Snake Bathing Prince Siddhartha” in Sanskrit Buddhist scriptures was localized in China and translated into “Dragon Bathing Prince Siddhartha” where “snake” was changed to “dragon”. By then, the Chinese dragon image has been changed from the “dragon and snake are the same” to “dragon and snake are separated” and the dragon is a unique image.  (Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers) Figure2-2-10: “Snake” Protecting Buddha Sitting Statue/ there was no Chinese “dragon” image in the Buddha Sheltered by the Serpent Sanskrit Buddhist scripture in the Khmer Empire (802~1432) of the  13th century A.D.(Source: Photo by Dragon Seekers)

Nine Similarities Sharing by Dragon

 So the dragon in everyone’s mind is not the same, which varies due to the environment people stay and can be said to be the dragon however it is drawn. However, the traditional craftsmen have their own pithy formula and ideas for dragon drawing. This phenomenon of dragon’s nine parts taken from different animals is also called the “Nine Similarities Sharing by Dragon”:


Item Part Animal from which Appearance was Taken Significance
1 Horn Deer The broken deer horn can regrow, a symbol of life and growth in nature
2 Eye Shrimp The lobster has a 360-degree vision and can see very clearly
3 Nose Dog The dog nose is very sensitive that can scent smells from far away
4 Mouth Cattle The cattle mouth can eat well
5 Dragon back Lion The lion’s mane is rigid and strong
6 Scale Fish The fish scales is very hard
7 Body Snake The snake body can bend flexibly
8 Barbel Catfish The catfish’s barbel has very strong induction force
9 Foot Eagle The eagle claw can grab things strongly



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