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Chinese Dragon Kite culture

No one exactly knows where Chinese dragons came from. Unlike European dragons, they are worshipped as gods and are an integral part of Chinese culture.  Dragons have the power to control rainfall and bring prosperity and good fortune. Temples to dragons are found near water because it is thought most dragons live in water.

Chinese Emperors can trace their lineage back to descendants of dragons. So they sleep in dragon beds, sit on a dragon seat and wear ceremonial dragon robes.

Dragons are described as being made up from parts of nine other animals. These are believed to be:

  1. The head of a camel.
  2. The horns of a deer.
  3. The eyes of a devil.
  4. The neck of a snake.
  5. The abdomen of a clam.
  6. The scales of a carp.
  7. The claws of an eagle.
  8. The paws of a tiger.
  9. The ears of an ox.

(This is somewhat different from the 'kite parts' list on the introduction page - often dragon tradition contains contradictions and/or parallels, due to the time over which the traditions evolved. )

Types of dragons

Legend tells of nine sons of the dragon who each have a strong personality. The names of the sons vary but these are the most widely used ones:

  • Pulao is fond of roaring. His image is on the top of bells and gongs.
  • Qiuniu likes music. His image is carved on the bridge of stringed instruments.
  • Bixi can support heavy weights. His image is carved on the bottom of stone monuments and on panniers.
  • Hanuxian. An adventurous dragon. His image is carved on the eaves of temples.
  • Baxia likes water. His image is carved on bridges and archways.
  • Yazi likes to fight. His image is carved on the hilts of swords and knives.
  • Jiaotu is tight lipped like a mussel. His image is carved on doors and gates.
  • Chiwen likes to gaze into the distance. His image is carved on pinnacles.
  • Suanmi likes smoke and fire. His image is carved on the legs of incense-burners.

    The Chinese believe that the dragon originated in China. When a dragon walks east it looses toes. The further east it goes the more toes it looses and eventually it can. t walk any more. Similarly, when it goes west it gains toes until it can. t walk further west either. This explains why Chinese dragons have 5 toes; Korean dragons have 4 toes and Japanese dragons 3 toes. It also explains why Chinese dragons never reached Europe!

    Dragon mythology

    The fish and the pearl

    It is also thought that dragons originated in water. There is a legend that there was once a special fish who had a precious pearl in his throat. Other fish wanted to take away the pearl but he was always able to outwit them.

    One day a man in rags come to the water's edge and cried out to the Gods that it was unfair that he was poor and couldn't look after his family properly. The fish heard and felt sorry for the man and wanted to help him. He decided that he would give the pearl to the man. He hid his pearl in a shell then leapt out of the water so that the man would see him. When the man tried to grab the fish he missed but found the shell. He opened it and found that it contained the precious pearl. He realised its worth and ran home happy.

    The fish felt sad at the loss of his pearl. Suddenly he was engulfed by a warm sensation and he heard a voice telling him that because of his great kindness to the man he would be transformed into a creature that will always be loved and special to the world. The fish found himself changing. He turned into a dragon and was able to fly away into the heavens.

    The boy and the pearl

    One day a village boy finds a large and brilliant pearl while he is out looking for food. He takes it home to his mother and they hide it in a jar of rice so the neighbours won't be jealous.

    Next day the jar of rice is full. So they put the pearl beside to another jar and the following day that jar's full too. They decided to share the rice with their neighbours but kept the secret of the pearl to themselves.
    However, the secret got out and the villagers plotted to steal the pearl. During the raid, the boy accidentally swallowed the pearl and its magic turned him into a huge dragon.

    This is why you will see Chinese dragons depicted with a flaming pearl in front of them. The dragon was once the boy and he is protecting the precious pearl.