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Demystifying China's ancient dragons

2014-11-14 16:35:51

(World of Chinese)


They can be fickle, lucky or divine - sometimes all of the above - but more importantly they are revered throughout the country

The mythical brilliance of the dragon continues to ignite the popular imagination, even in modern times: Last summer, a story about a man who claimed to have found a dragon in his backyard went viral. In contrast to the malevolent dragons of the West, Chinese dragons are auspicious, often seen as neutral guardians or even benevolent protectors. That is not to say that Chinese dragons are not dangerous - their powers frequently include magic and a whole host of special powers. To celebrate the dragon's role in Chinese mythology, the World of Chinese has compiled this bestiary of ancient Chinese dragons.

Fishers worship the four Dragon Kings at a shrine in Rizhao, Shandong province. Photos Provided to China Daily

Dragon Kings 龙王 (long wang)

The four Dragon Kings are the divine rulers of the oceans, who control weather and bring rainfall. As befits kings, each has a royal court and commands an army of ocean creatures. The Dragon Kings appear many times in classical literature, most famously in the epic Journey to the West. Their magical powers extend far beyond controlling the weather, as they can appear in dragon form, human form, or as massive spouts of water. Even today, shrines throughout China honor the Dragon Kings and travelers seek their favor on new journeys. It is best to stay on the Dragon Kings' good side though, as many stories discuss their willingness to cause droughts, storms and floods.

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