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Demystifying China's ancient dragons

2014-11-14 16:35:51

(World of Chinese)


A yellow dragon on the nine-dragon screen at Beihai Park in BeijingPhotos. Provided to China Daily

Yellow dragon 黄龙 (huang long)

The Yellow Dragon is the dragon that symbolizes the emperor as well as the center of the four directions. Sometimes said to be a reincarnation of the Yellow Emperor, the Yellow Dragon is said to have burst from a river to present the elements of writing to Emperor Fu Xi, the first mythical emperor of China. The Yellow Dragon's fondness for emperors (having been one in a previous life) has transformed it into a symbol for the imperial family, and the famous hornless dragon appears as a motif in Forbidden City architecture. The royal association with yellow became so strong that for a time, only the emperor and his family were allowed to wear the color. When people think of auspicious dragons, including the dragon of the Chinese zodiac, this is the dragon that comes to mind.

Treasure dragon 伏藏龙(fu zang long)

Fuzanglong are the dragons of hidden treasure. They live deep underground, guarding their massive hordes, said to include natural treasures such as gemstones and gold nuggets, as well as man-made wonders such as great works of art. Fuzanglong are almost always depicted clutching their magic pearl, their most precious possession. Humans rarely see these elusive dragons, usually only when they are deep underground hunting for forbidden treasure. On rare occasions, they will be roused from their slumber and burst out of the ground, causing volcanoes to form. When a volcano erupts unexpectedly, it is said that a fuzanglong is reporting back to heaven.

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