Chinese Dragon - Loong

As a legendary animal in ancient Chinese mythology, Loong (or more commonly Chinese dragon, 龙 in Chinese), is traditionally regarded as the king of aquatic animals, as well as one of the symbols of the country. In Chinese legends, dragons can fly and take control of wind and rain, they are good at transformations, etc. Together with phoenixes and unicorns, Loongs were listed as the auspicious animals in ancient time. During the era of imperial China, they mainly stood for supreme power. The emperors claimed themselves as the Son of Heaven, a real dragon. They attempted to make use of the magic animals to endow themselves with a heavenly mandate to rule the whole nation. Therefore, what they wore and used, where they lived were all decorated with all kinds of dragons.  

Appearance of Chinese Dragon

Chinese dragon

Though the Loong is a man-made creature, it does have a vivid appearance in Chinese culture. It has been recorded in the ancient books, depicting what a real Chinese dragon looks like "its horns like a deer’s, its head likes a camel’s, its eyes like a rabbit’s, its neck likes a snake’s, its belly like a oyster’s, its scales like a fish’s, its claws like an eagle’s, its palms like a tiger’s, its ears like a bull’s"

Origin of Loongs

It is recorded in the history books that the Fuxi, the very early ruler of Chinese people, was believed to be a blue dragon (青龙) 8000 years ago, while his descendent Yan Emperor or Flame Emperor was nicknamed as Red Dragon (赤龙); the ruler of another tribe called Xuanyuan (Yellow Emperor) was considered to be a yellow dragon (黄龙). In these legends and records, Fuxi and his sister/wife Nüwa were thought to be the ancestors and creators of Chinese people, and the blue dragon was also the first dragon of Chinese nation.>> Know more about types of Chinese dragon

After defeating the tribes of Yan Emperor and Chiyou, the Yellow Emperor united the whole country, and combined some elements from the totems of different tribes to create a new animal icon - the Loong.

In the following dynasties, the Loong gradually became the common totem of the Han nationality in China, which is usually composed of a dragon and a phoenix. This means the balance of Yin and Yang, or men and women. Later, Chinese dragon was listed as one of the 12 animals of Chinese Zodiac.

Characteristics of Chinese Dragon

The characteristics of Chinese dragons can be summed up as an aquatic animal, excellence in flying and transformations, auspicious and powerful creature.

King of Aquatic Animals

As the king of aquatic animals, Loongs love staying in water. In Chinese myths, they are considered as the aquatic creatures coming from water like seas, lakes, and rivers. They were actually born with a collection of features of water animals like fish, crocodiles, snakes, prawns, seahorses, etc. In ancient times, Chinese people believed that the natural phenomena such as cloud, rain, wind, as well as storms, ocean tides, tornadoes, and mudslides were all closely related to the Loongs. In Chinese minds, they are designated to be in charge of the wind and rain by the Heavenly Emperor.

Excellence in Flying

Chinese dragons excel in flying in the sky, which is another characteristic of this legendary creature. The ancient Chinese people thought that the Loongs have the power of linking the Heaven and Earth, which is kind of the ability to communicate with Heaven and Earth and act as a messenger between the two worlds. By the way, to accomplish their mission of operating the rain and wind, they have to fly up to the sky to do it. Therefore, they were endowed with the magic power of flying in the sky, which would also meet the expectation of ancient people towards these mythical animals.

Transformations and capriciousness

Since the Loongs were formed by a variety of many different creatures, there are possibly various personalities in them. As Chinese dragons come from water areas, they have the character of water, which is so adaptable, and can turn into any shape. In the minds of the ancients, the magic dragons could change to anything they want in disguise physically. At the same time, the Loongs are a little bad tempered, so if they are offended, they would easily burst into rage and revenge immediately. The natural disasters like torrential rain, flood, storm, and tornado were thought to be launched by them.

Auspicious and Powerful Creature

Chinese dragon facts

In the ancient time, the mighty Nature brought the people so much fear and insecurity, so that ancients created their gods, totem to worship. In this way, hopefully they could be protected and blessed with good luck. Together with Kylin, Pheonix and Turtle, Loong is one of the “Four Spirit Animals”. When the people see them, it is thought to be an auspicious omen. Since the dragon kings are responsible for the rainfall. When there is a drought, the farmers and officials, even the emperor would pray to the dragon king for rain. In an agrarian society, reaping a harvest was so important for the huge population in this country. Therefore, the dragon kings enjoy a very high status in guaranteeing a good harvest for the people. On the other hand, due to their bad temperament, Loongs can get angry easily. To avoid suffering from the disasters caused by the Loongs, the helpless people showed great respect and reverence to them.  

Quick Facts about the Chinese Dragon

1. The Loong is not a real animal, but a created one with the features of 9 other different animals;

2. The Loong is widely accepted as the totem of China;

3. The culture of the Loongs is deeply rooted in the minds of Chinese people. We, including overseas Chinese, all claim to be the descendants of the Loongs;

4. The Loong is one of the “Four Auspicious Spirit Animals” together with Pheonix (Fenghuang), Kylin (Qilin) and Turtle (Gui). It is also one of the “Four Divine Beasts” (Azure Dragon, White Tiger, Black Tortoise and Vermillion Bird).

5. The Chinese Dragon ranks the fifth place in the animals of Chinese Zodiac.

6. As a mythical animal, Chinese Loongs are all masculine. There is no female Loong. When we talk about Yin and Yang, then the Loong is on the Yang side, while the Pheonix is on the Yin side;  

7. Actually there are many different types of Loongs living in various places: old or young, powerful or weak, noble and humble. Chinese people also made them 9 different sons;

8. In the era of Imperial China, only the emperor and royal family are allowed to use the image of Chinese dragons;

9. On the second day of the second lunar month, Chinese people celebrate Dragon-Raising-Head (or Longtaitou) Day, expecting the arrival of Spring. It has been a tradition that everyone should have a haircut during the day;

10. Up to now, there are still some Dragon King Temple all over the country, which were always built by the rivers, lakes and seas in the hope of keeping away the floods or other disasters, and letting the locals stay safe;

11. Chinese Loong is a completely different legendary animal compared with the Western dragon. Here are the Similarities and Differences of Chinese dragon and Western Dragon.

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