Chinese Dragon

Last Update: 2008-10-14 3:14:00; By nancy

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Chinese Dragon
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The Chinese dragon is a divine creature that was described visually by the Chinese ancients as chimeral combination of animals such as fish, alligators, snakes and horses, and having powers generlly attributed to gods such as the forming of clouds, mist, thunder, lightning, and rainbows. The Dragon's blurred aggregation process originates during the development of primitive Asian societies around 5000 years ago during the earlier stages of the New Stone Age when spirit worship became popular as society formed the fundamentals of both polytheistic Toaist religion and the imperial state. A common mythological debate is concerned with which primitive society first depicted the dragon as a symbol. The first western mention of a dragon is in Homer’s Illiad, when Homer writes about a symbol on Agamemnon’s chest armor. The word used by Homer, "Drakanos", in Greek could mean the famous chimera, but could also mean "serpent", or "that which sees". Though the legend has been around since pre-history, the first recorded dragon "proof" in China was in 300 BC when Chang Qu, a Chinese historian, labeled some dinosaur bones found in Wuchen, Sichuan Province as being the bones of a dragon. Many think that the legend of the dragon comes from the mist found in the mountains of Sichuan and the propensity of the area for earthquakes, which were attributed by ancient peoples to angry dragons. The emergence of the dragon in Chinese culture around 5500 BC in the Neolithic Xinglong Wa culture has lead archeologists to postulate that the dragon may be based on Crocodylu porosus, a breed of giant crocodile whose fossilized remains have been found in rivers throughout mountainous regions in Asia. This theory is bolstered by the fact that dragons were often thought to live in caves deep in the bowels of mountains, and also by the prevalence of dragons in the Chinese science of Feng Shui, an art form that had its cultural debut in the Hongshan Period of 4700 BC alongside dragon icons. In ancient China people building a house on a hill or mountain were always careful to build their house along the slope of the mountain so as not to upset the dragon that lived beneath them.

The formation of the Chinese dragon legend historically kept pace with the integration of different ethnic nations during ancient China. In Chinese myth, the dragon is considered the creator of heaven and earth, enjoying the same popularity as Pan Gu, and having actively taken part in the marriage of Fuxi Nvwa. By taking part in the marriage, the dragon helped perpetuate the human race as its descendants. The mythical creature also reportedly helped Emperor Qin Shi Huang (259 BC- 210 BC) win the unification of China and assisted Xia Yu in controlling the flooding of the Yangzi River centuries later. We can see that the myths and legends of the dragon are intertwined closely with Chinese history, and that the Chinese people are aptly called "the descendants of the dragon".

As a witness and participant in the integration of the Chinese nation, the spirit of Chinese dragon is the spirit of unity and cohesion. Meanwhile, the dragon is also a god controlling weather. To produce an autumn of good rain after a long drought and the control of rivers is the duty of the dragon. Therefore, the spirit of the dragon is the spirit of creating happiness for human beings. In modern times, the dragon has evolved from a divine chimera to a sort of mascot for the Chinese. As a modern symbol, the dragon has implied meanings such as "rising rapidly", "getting roused", and "opening up and changing". In other words, the spirit of the dragon is the spirit of stirring oneself to action and living as a pioneer.

Being water related, able to fly, being changeable, having direct access to the highest authorities, educating leaders on propriety, and foretelling misfortune are the basic qualities of the dragon. After the myth began to be used by the upper social classes, the dragon also reflected the increasing deity of the imperial throne as the symbol of the emperor’s divinity. As times have changed and civilization has evolved, the impact of modernization has impaired the dragon’s divinity and power as a symbol. Concurrently, its importance as a mascot has been strengthened and is gaining momentum.

China is the homeland of the dragon. Dragon culture has penetrated into every field of social life such as the industrial arts, buildings, places of interest, songs, dances, and movies. Its influence can be seen in seasonal celebrations, weddings, funerals, etiquette, and costume. An indispensable part of Chinese culture, the dragon occupies a striking amount of mythical history in China and its position embodies essential elements of Asia. People summon the soul of the dragon by way of offering sacrifices to the dragon and forms of prayer such as displaying the image of the dragon in sculpture, art, and folk dances. They explore the origins and the secrets of the dragon through writing and associate with the dragon’s deity by promoting an atmosphere of national strength.

The Chinese dragon is a cultural sign rich in history and importance, as well as a symbol of the Chinese nation. It is a symbol of all things essentially Chinese as well as an insignia of strength through the centuries.

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