Chinese Traditions: Chinese Dragon Mythology

Surname 7

Student’s Name
Chinese Dragon Mythology
Chinese dragons are creatures associated with Chinese folklore and Chinese mythology. These dragons may take the form of fish, turtle, and imaginary creatures but are commonly evinced in a snake form having four legs. In Chinese terminologies, dragons are referred to as yang and they complement to Chinese phoenix known as yin. Traditionally, Chinese dragons are a symbol of powers and potent which are associated with water, rainfall, floods, lakes and rivers and were used in traditional empires to symbolize imperial power and strength. They are believed to be divine creatures that bring abundance, good luck and prosperity where excellent and prominent people are referred to as dragons. In china, dragons are used for decorations with descriptions of the terms of the dragon in use such as dragon-boat with emperor dragon-face being the supreme compliment. This paper explores in depth the traditional Chinese dragon and how it was associated with Chinese culture.
Metaphors Associated with Chinese Dragons
According to the archaeological discoveries, there has been an association of Chinese culture with dragons for more than six thousand years. These discoveries show those dragons are well used as a sign of prominence in form of philosophical text and images of shamanistic worship. It is believed that more than six thousand years ago when people were living in an extremely harsh environment, the early Chinese treated a particular species of animals and plants to have power that can overcome the forces of nature (Anne 125). These species were used as totem or common ancestors and special guardian of each tribe could avert disasters or provide food by use of these symbols. There used to be a tribe in central china that lived on the middle and lower side of yellow river that used snake (dragon) as their totem. The dragon helped them to attain victories in the battle of dragon’s protection and after defeating another tribe, this tribe usually added part of the totem to the snake extended another tribe. For instance, when extended a tribe with lion totem, the lion’s antler would be added to the head of the snake. As a result, the dragon will have nine resemblances such as shell of a turtle, neck of a snake, jaws of a lion, among other animal parts. These nine resemblances make nine a lucky and important number in china.
Myth of the Dragon
Early time before creation, dragon, long, is seen as one of the four primary generous spiritual animals that represents all male creatures like sun with Phoenix, Feng or yin, as the second one that represents all female creatures. The other creatures were unicorn and tortoise. Man was then created and put on the land. Thereafter, the empire of heaven, Tien Ti, noted the wickedness of man and was very furious and therefore, he sent flood that covered the whole land. One of the younger gods, Yu, felt pity on man and therefore he asked for the man’s forgiveness (Yang 67). As a result, Yu was given permission to descend to earth, accompanied with a giant black tortoise and emerald scaled dragon, together with a magic soil for absorbing water. Yu, while on earth had a mission of scattering the soil, using dragon’s tail to carve mountains, valleys, lakes and rivers of china.
As noted in the above, there are nine resemblances of a Chinese dragon that give close proximity to the nine classical types of dragon. These types come as a result of annexation of dragon’s totem during a battle of dragon’s protection. The nine forms of Chinese dragons are as below:
· Yinglong the winged dragon. This dragon is believed to be a servant of yellow emperor (emperor of yellow river), Huang Di, immortalized as dragon after death. This dragon has helped Yu, a younger god from Heaven Empire, to carve rivers and valleys with his tail thus stopping yellow river from flooding. This dragon is termed as the oldest of all eastern dragons which has developed wings after reaching a certain age.
· Dragon King. This dragon comprises of other four dragons which controls the four seas; seas of the east, west, north and south. This type of dragon is capable of shifting its face from dragon shape to human form (Newton pg 87). These dragons are believed to live in crystal places protected by crab generals as well as shrimp soldiers.
· Shenlong the Spiritual dragon. These dragons are responsible for generating wind and causing rainfall on the land.
· Dilong the Underground Dragon. These are counterpart of Shenlong and only fly during mating periods. They are undertaking the work of controlling rivers and streams.
· Tianlong the celestial Dragon. They are heaven dragons and their task is to pull the chariots of the gods and safeguard their palaces.
· Funcanglong the dragon of Hidden treasures. They consist of underworld dragons that take care of Chinese buried treasures including natural resources and artificial resources. According to some Chinese myths, volcanoes are formed during the time when these dragons burst out of the ground purposely to report something to Heaven Empire.
· Panlong the coiling Dragon. Include all water dragons which inhibit and controls all the lakes of the orient.
· Huanglong The yellow Dragon. It is traditionally believed to have emerged from water and introduced the elements of writing to Emperor Fu Shi.
· Li the Homeless Dragon. These dragons live in ocean and are responsible for keeping the dens in the mountains.
According to the Chinese myths, the first Chinese dragon appeared to emperor Fu-Shi which filed the sky made by monster Kung. Its actions such as sleeping, breathing where determinants of the day and night as well as weather and seasons.
Different from Chinese dragons, classical dragons can shift their forms from being in form of common dragon to human form, can even fly without wings and are very benevolent to human. As discussed above, Chinese dragon has nine resemblances which include the neck of a snake, claws of an eagle, ears of a bull, head of a camel, feet of a tiger, eyes of a demon, horns of a stag, carp’s scales among other entities. Again, Chinese dragon has four claws as opposed to imperial dragon with a standard of five claws.
Symbolizing Power and Strength
Chinese dragons are used benevolent symbol in Chinese culture. These include:
Symbolic value
The history points that dragon was used as a symbol of Chinese Emperor. The value represented by use of dragon is dictated by the number of claws that that dragon was assigned. For instance, in Zhou dynasty, a dragon with five claws was used for sons of heaven; dragon with four claws was used for the nobles, while dragon with three claws was used to represent ministers.
While in Qin dynasty, a dragon with five claws was used to represent Emperor while a dragon with four and three claws were used to represent the commoners (Barend 213). The dragon is used as a symbol of culture right from People’s Republic of China to republic of china in Taiwan and more so used in west as China’s national emblem. Sometimes, dragon is used by Chinese people as a sign of ethnic identity.
Imperial authority
The traditional Chinese ruler like Emperor Yan and the Yellow had a close relation with dragons. During the reign of Yellow Emperor, it was believed that he was immortalized to dragon that resembled his emblem. Also, Emperor Yan was born his mother’s telepathy with a mythic dragon. These two legendary rulers are referred to as descendants of the dragon and therefore Chinese people refer these rulers as their ancestors (Zhao 56). As stated above dragons were used a symbols for emperors in Chinese dynasties.
In conclusion, dragons were a useful creature in Chinese culture. Chinese people use dragon as a symbol of power and strength. They have power to undergo transformation such as from dragon to human but they usually retained their dragon nature. They are associated with weather and seasons and therefore they are feared. They are used as a symbol of Chinese Emperors like yellow Emperor and Emperor Yan. All the possessions of Chinese rulers had a dragon name such as Dragon Boat, Dragon Throne and many others. Dragons are believed to have a power to overcome forces of nature. For example, Yinglong is believed to have dried floods by use of his tail to carve rivers, valley and mountains. With other qualities, Chinese dragon can have many colors, his favorite food used to identify legends as well as relating to almost all things used by Chinese emperors.

Works Cited
Birrell, Anne. Chinese mythology: an introduction. JHU Press, 1999.
Hayes, L. Newton. The Chinese Dragon. Lulu. com, 1922.
Yang, Lihui, and Deming An. Handbook of Chinese mythology. Abc-clio, 2005.
Ter Haar, Barend J. Ritual and Mythology of the Chinese Triads. Vol. 41. Brill, 2000.
Zhao, Qiguang. A study of dragons, East and West. P. Lang, 1992.

Did it help you?

Cite this Page

Chinese Traditions: Chinese Dragon Mythology. (2022, Feb 11). Retrieved from

Need customer essay sample written special for your assignment?

Choose skilled expert on your subject and get original paper with free plagiarism report

Order custom paper

Without paying upfront