Eastern Dragon Myths and Legends


Unlike the dragons of the Western world, the dragons of the Eastern world and particularly China, are known generally as benevolent beings. The Chinese love their dragons so much they even call themselves, ‘Lung Tik Chuan Ren’, meaning ‘Descendants of the Dragon’.

Festivals celebrating dragons are important in the Chinese calendar, such as the large dragons in the New Year celebrations. With their association with wisdom, nobility, good fortune and abundance, it is easy to see why the dragon became the emblem of the Emperor, and why the dragon is a fundamental part of Chinese culture.

Year of the Dragon
The ‘Year of the Dragon’ occurs every 12 years and its qualities depend upon the year’s ruling element.

Earth dragons excel in diplomacy.
Fire dragons are competitive, extrovert and charismatic.
Metal dragons lack compassion and are full of unquenchable drive.
Wood dragons are ambitious and logical, but also creative and inquisitive.
Water dragons are open, compassionate, optimistic, and good communicators.

The Emperor claimed kinship with these creatures to affirm his divine status as the ruler of the land. Oriental dragons are linked with life force and water, and they can also bring rain and control rivers. They are especially very fond of, and like to collect, pearls.

The Four Dragons

The legend of The Four Dragons is about four dragons that lived in the eastern sea. These were; the Black Dragon, Long Dragon, Pearl Dragon and the Yellow Dragon.

As legend has it, one day these four dragons noticed a group of people burning incense and praying to the Jade Emperor to send rain, because their crops were dying. On the suggestion of Long Dragon, and on behalf of the people, the four dragons appealed to the Emperor, and he agreed to help them. However, ten days passed without rain, and the people were desperately eating bark, roots and clay.

At Long Dragon’s suggestion the dragons scooped up sea water and sprayed it over the land. The Sea God discovered this however, and told the Jade Emperor, who arrested them. Furious with the dragons, he ordered the Mountain God to trap them. The dragons decided that in order to continue to be able to do good for the people, the only solution was to turn themselves into rivers, so the people would always have water.

The Dragons became China’s four rivers:-
The Heilongjian (Black Dragon), the Changjiang (Long Dragon), the Zhujiang (Pearl Dragon), and the Huanghe (Yellow Dragon).

According to Chinese myths and legends, there are nine different types of dragon, each with its own abilities and purposes, and easily recognisable.

A dragon king who rules the four seas in the directions of north, east, south and west.

Celestial Dragon (Tianlong)
Supports and protects the mansions of the gods.

Coiling Dragon (Panlong)
Lives in bodies of water such as serene lakes, and becomes the guardian of its chosen watery habitat.

Dragon of Hidden Treasures (Futslong)
Guards concealed wealth and treasure. This powerful dragon can control earthquakes and volcanoes.

Horned Dragon (Quilong)
Is the most powerful dragon, can produce rain, and gains a horn after 500 years. It is also totally deaf.

Spiritual Dragon (Shenlong)
Creates wind and rain for the benefit of humanity.

Underground Dragon (Dilong)
Also known as the Earth Dragon, controls the rivers and underground waters.

Winged Dragon (Yinglong)
Gains its wings after 1000 years, and is the type of dragon that can fly.

Yellow Dragon (Huanglong)
Came from the River Luo to teach Emperor Fu Shi the art of writing.
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