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Dragons can be present in both the western and eastern territories. Dragons guard treasures such as mountains and jewels, as the term dragon, means to guard or watch. Dragons are enormous, powerful, or reptile-like animals with the ability to fly. In this context, they reflect a variety of meanings. Furthermore, the physical appearance of dragons varies from region to region. Dragons are generally a hybrid of many species, including snakes and birds. Dragons are a myth in some parts of the world, but others believe that they once existed. Different societies perceive dragons in various ways for example they are appreciated in some countries and embraced though in others they are feared as a result of the believe that they represent evil.
Chinese dragons are associated with water, rain, lakes and rivers, they bring abundance, prosperity and fortune to the family. The Chinese view themselves as descendants of the dragon. Chinese dragons unlike other types of dragons are beautiful, friendly and clever. The people love and worship them to an extent that they have built temples and shrines as a way of honouring them. Chinese dragons provide the people with rains, rivers, lakes and oceans (Conrad, 12). Chinese four great rivers were named after the dragons as a sign of honour. Besides, it is said that the first Chinese emperor had a dragon’s tail and the next leader was believed to be a son of the dragon. The dragon was the one that issued orders at the time of war.
Chinese dragons are powerful and benevolent symbols with control over watery phenomena. Dragons in Chinese culture symbolise sovereignty of emperors, this is because dragons were viewed as powerful creatures and had power to rule. The emperors called their sons the seeds of the dragon and their chairs made to portray dragon image. Dragon robes were the name given to their robes. The Chinese have various dragons which include: the horned dragon which produced rain but was deaf, celestial dragon and it lived in the sky and guards the gods from falling. On the other hand, spiritual dragons are known to generate wind and rain (Deleuze).
Dragons act as a symbol of being lucky, powerful, noble and propitious. As a powerful symbol, strong people tend to have their bodies tattooed with dragons. Anybody that has the tattoo of the dragon is considered to be of high status in the Chinese society. The Chinese dragons symbolize power, excellence, and boldness, heroism and perseverance. The dragon is a creature which to Chinese overcomes obstacles until success, so energetic, decisive, and optimistic intelligent and ambitious. Famous Chinese movie stars have their names with the word dragon for example, Jackie Chan (chenglong) which means become dragon. Chinese dragons have a lot of power as they represent seasonal cycles and supernatural forces. Dragons are used as decorations in china for example the dragon throne and dragon bed. The emperor was highly appreciated when called the dragons face as it illustrated power.
Chinese dragons have a long serpentine body that is generally wingless with a complete beard. The first depictions of dragon were in form of totems, it was in form of a pig which would coil to elongate in length at times. They have a general appearance similar to that of animals. For instance, they have a trunk of a snake and scales of a carp. Its tail is similar to that of a whale and with the feet of tiger. Some dragons have a flaming pearl under their chin. On the other hand, some of them look like others bats that have wings growing out of their front limbs. Many of these Chinese dragons are wingless but are still have the ability to fly. The dragon is also viewed to have some supernatural powers, it can change to different forms for example silkworm or become large it can also fly high in the skies or stay in waters.
Japanese dragon is Ryu Jin believed to have originated from Buddhist religion and among the beasts of Japanese myth. Japanese dragons are more associated to the sea as compared to the rain because Japan was not vulnerable to drought unlike China. Ryu the Japanese dragon was known of the power of summoning the storm by howls and transforms to a tornado. It resided under the sea, dragon king of serpent people under the sea. The Japanese dragon has a body similar to that of a boy which is entwined with a crown. It is known for wisdom and nobility. People who drowned in the sea are believed to have refuge in its kingdom under the sea. Fuku Riu, Japanese dragon of good lack.
Dragons in Japanese symbolize wisdom, longevity, sexuality, fertility, procreation and regeneration. The virtue of generosity, a person with a tattoo of a dragon is viewed as benevolent and does well within the powers that one has. Dragons are highly regarded as they use their power to do good to the people. They also portray wisdom as a result of the many years spent in the world. Tattoos with dragons is portrayed to be wise as they serve upon the interest of the people; they are called upon to offer advice at time of need. It also symbolized the protection against evil powers, in the spiritual realm dragons are viewed to have powers beyond human thinking hence can wade off evil powers. Longevity, most dragons lived under the water they were given the characteristics of water giving life to creatures (Klingsick). People believed that the dragons were a sign of long life as a result of the years they stayed in the world. Regeneration, dragons were known to sustain themselves for longer and could recover even after long time. They could not succumb easily to hardships they were meant to survive and come out in new shape. Sculpture of the dragons was used to decorate the temples in Japan. To the inhabitants it represented the challenges humans face throughout life before attaining enlighten. Japanese regard the dragons in high level among all the creatures as it is carved upon tombs, dwellings and shops.
The appearance of Japanese Dragon varies from region to region having unique presentation. Some dragons are white or gold, others are dark green or blue and some can be black or blue. The diverse colours in Japanese represent the direction that the dragon originates from or the age of the dragon. The Japanese dragon has a long and slender scaly body like a snake and clawed feet. Some have manes on their necks like horses and long sleek horns. Each dragon has five three clawed toes. Japanese believe that dragons originated in Japan and later flew to other countries where they gained more toes the farther they went. Female dragons have fans in their tails as opposed male dragons that hold clubs in theirs.
In folktales, dragons in Europe have blood with a unique power that enables them to live for long as well as giving them poisonous or acidic properties. They portray an image of power as a result of their size and capabilities. In western myths the European dragons were shown as evil and dangerous fierce animals that have wings and a tail for added balance. The medieval dragons are classified according to physical characteristics, appearance and habitat. They have an attraction and great association with gemstones hence the reason they live in caves to access crystals and cool underground temperatures. They are also said to have used deep lakes to hoard piles of golden treasures and jewels.
European dragon is a serpentine legendary creature. They are viewed as being large creatures with numerous scales with horns. Other dragons have wings, crests, ear frills, fiery manes and with ivory spikes running down the spine. Though some are winged, they stay underground staying in caves. Most modern stories in Europe depict dragons as intelligent creatures which can talk and sometimes have powerful magic. In Europe, dragons to some people represent a sign of evil and are not easily accepted. They are regarded as dangerous creatures which can breathe fire and cause a lot of destruction. In most fiction movies, dragons are used in wars to fight against enemies. The European dragons are viewed as greedy, store gold treasures, fierce, eat flesh and existed during the middle age. Due to their powerful magic dragons were left with the function of watching over treasures and fortunes. Dragon monsters are said to have sometimes-wonder dint to the villages and left great destructions and death. This led to the knights to hunt them down, in rare occasions, they succeeded to sly them but in most scenarios, the dragons overpowered them as a result of their immense power. Dragon hunting was profitable to the knights as they gained fame and fortune; they were respected as they could survive the fire of the dragon and defend their people.
Dragons in the east are an important representation, both in Japan and china they are a sign of power. People who held higher position in these societies were identified with the dragon. It also influenced the religious practice, both china and Japan had sculptures of the dragons on the temples. The appearance of dragons is to some extend it in all regions; they are serpent like walk on the ground and can as well fly. Some dragons resides in deep areas like the water and caves while others live on top of mountain to avoid conflict or interaction with man’s inventions. Other dragons can be kind, noble and defensive as illustrated by those in Chinese and Japanese culture. Dragons in Europe contrast the dragons in the east in various ways. The view of the dragons in Europe is negative as to that in Japan and China. European dragons seem dangerous in the powers they possess for example the incident of breathing fire whenever it is angry. Finally, dragons have animal features similar to the heads of the elephant. Besides, lions have claws and bird beaks with earthly colours such as green, blue, red and gold that portray different meanings. All in all dragons are powerful creatures from their physical bodies to what they represent.
Conrad, G. Snake to monster: the evolution of Dragons, 2006.
Deleuze, G. Deleuzian Dragons: Thinking Chinese strategic spatial planning, 2003.
Dragons in the drawing room: Chinese embroideries in British homes, 2008.
Klingsick, J. A Japanese garden journey: through ancient stones and dragon bones, 1999.
Rose, C. Giants, monsters and dragons: an encyclopaedia of folklore, legend and myth, 2000.
Squamata. Karyological analysis of the Indo-Chinese water dragon, physignathus cocincinus, 2015.
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