Dragons Across Cultures

Dragons Across Cultures
Dragons Across Cultures

Photo by Kerin Gedge on Unsplash

Dragons are mythological creatures typically thought of in European fairy tales. As most stories go the knight must slay the dragon to save the princess. In Chinese folklore dragons hold a different meaning that does not involve them being slayed.

Dragons are revered and benevolent creatures. They have the power to control water, as they can summon rain during droughts. Dragons are found everywhere in Chinese culture, such as legends, astrology, art, names, and idioms. They are seen as lucky and good creatures. The opposite of how Western culture views them, which tends to be evil and destructive. Chinese dragons are depicted to have long bodies like snakes and sharp claws while in Western culture dragons tend to have a dinosaur looking body. In Chinese folklore dragons live at the bottom of seas, rivers, lakes, or anywhere with water. Emperors in China were identified as sons of dragons, and at that time non royal people were not allowed to have or own any depictions of dragons. Their depictions are found in places like the Forbidden City.


“Chinese dragons are depicted to have long bodies like snakes and sharp claws…”


Dragons are also found in festivals and celebrations. The dragon dance is performed at many celebrations, such as Chinese New Year. Typically you will see a long dragon spanning many yards, which is constructed using hoops made of bamboo and is covered with glitter like fabric, held up by dancers. There is also the Dragon Boat Festival. It consists of boat racing. Wooden boats are shaped and decorated in the form of a Chinese dragon! The size of the boat varies and depending on the length it takes about 30-60 people to paddle it. Those who peddle are accompanied by the sound of beating drums. The team that wins will have good luck and a happy life in the following year. In Western culture dragons are evil and need to be slain but for the Chinese, dragons are symbols of power and luck.


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