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Friday, May 15, 2009

Types of Chinese Dragons - they have hierarchy too

Since we’re in Dragon Boat Festival mode anyway (it’s coming soon, May 28, 2009!) let’s talk about the mythical creature that is the focus of this festival – The Chinese Dragon.

Dragons in Western culture are fearsome beasts. In Chinese culture, however, dragons are deeply respected, even revered. The Chinese believe that dragons symbolize fertility, vitality and strength. Even if you look at pictures, the Western dragon is scary, while Chinese dragons are beautiful to look at, even cute sometimes.

The usual kinds of Chinese dragon is the Long, Li, Jiao and Mang.

Long Dragon. The supreme dragon, symbol of the Imperial Court. Among all kinds of Chinese dragons, Long is the Ruling Class dragon. It is very powerful and is said to have 5 claws. It is also believed to be a combination of different animals. The Long dragon has the head of a camel, horns of a deer, ears of a cow, neck of a snake, stomach of a frog, scales of a fish, eyes of a rabbit, claws of a hawk and footprints of a tiger.

Li Dragon. The water dragon, ruler of the rivers, seas rain and directions of the compass. The Li breathes water and sea foam. It is believed to have no horns.

Jiao Dragon. The earth dragon. It is believed that hills and mountains are the Jiao dragon’s back.

Mang Dragon. The Mang dragon is the dragon of the masses. It is ordinary and has 3 or 4 claws.


There they are, all 4 Chinese dragons. Next time you see a depiction of a Chinese dragon, especially this Dragon Boat Festival, see ifyou can identify which dragon you are looking at.

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