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Chinese dragon

The Chinese dragon (龍, in pinyin: long2) is a mythical creature resembling a snake. It is the embodiment of the concept of yang. Associated with weather and water--the bringer of rain--the Chinese dragon is also a shape-changer (or at least a size-changer). They are thought of as benevolent, often caretakers.

The legend has it that Huang Di[?] (Yellow Emperor) used a snake for his coat of arms. Every time he conquered another tribe, he added his defeated enemy's emblem into his. Huang Di was immortalized into a dragon that looks like his emblem. That explains why the Chinese dragon has a body of a snake; the scales and tail of a fish; the antlers of a deer; the face of a qilin (a deer-like mythical creature with fire all over its body); and two pairs of talons of eagles; and the eyes of a demon. They fly in the sky among the clouds. Almost all pictures of Chinese dragons show them playing with a flaming pearl. Supposedly it is the pearl that gives them their power and allows them to ascend to heaven.

Also, since the Chinese consider Huang Di as their ancestor, they sometimes refer themselves as "the descendants of the dragons".

Another legend says the carps become dragons after they leaped over the dragon gate.

Chinese Dragons have five toes on each foot, Korean or Indonesian have four and Japanese have three. Chinese legend tells us that dragons originated in China, and that the further away from China the dragon goes the less toes it has, which explains the lack of toes in the other types of Dragon, there are no other dragons as if it goes too far then it has too few toes to continue and so Dragons only exist in China, Korea, Indonesia and Japan. Japanese legend has a similar story that varies in that they originated in Japan, and the further they travel the more toes they get and as a result if they get too far they have too many toes and cannot continue as they cannot walk properly. In Korea and Indonesia, depending upon which direction the Dragon travels it will either gain or lose toes and the principles of the previous two myths both apply here.

Another interpretation: according to several sources, Chinese dragons had four toes--but the Imperial Dragon had five. It was a capital offense for anyone other than the emperor to use the five-clawed dragon motif.

The Dragon is one of the 12 Chinese zodiacs which is used to designate year in the Chinese calendar. It is thought that each animal is associated with certain personality traits.

The dragon was a symbol for the emperor in many Chinese dynasties. During the late Qing dynasty, the dragon was even adopted as the national flag. It was an capital offense for commoners to wear clothes with a dragon symbol. The dragons are believed to be the rulers of the seas. They can show themselves as water spouts (tornado or twister over water).

See also: Dragon King, European dragon



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