Wednesday, 10 August, 2016
9 Times Dragon
Why only 9? The world is full of ten-facts-lists, so why only 9 about dragons? The question brings us directly to the first one, or more precisely, to the first fact about the Chinese dragon. In Chinese culture the number 9 is of great value, it is sacred, and since the Chinese consider the dragon a wise, fortunate, highly spiritual being, it is frequently connected with that number. According to a decription from ancient China, dragons are said to be made up of 9 different types of animals: the head of a camel, the horns of a deer, the ears of a cow, a serpentine neck, the belly of a clam, the scales of a carp, an eagle’s claws, eyes of a rabbit and the tiger’s paws.
The Nine-Dragon Walls should keep away evil spirits from imperial palaces. The most impressing is to be found in Beijing, showing the 9 main large dragons and many small dragons along the edge. As legend has it, the first Chinese dragon had 9 sons, each of whom had a special task and corresponding supernatural power.In Chinese mythology there are 9 types of classical dragons, such as the imperial dragons (yellow or golden, with five claws instead of the usual four), the heavenly dragons, which carry and watch over heaven, or the ghost dragons, which control the rain, the wind and the floods.
In western, Christianity influenced culture, the dragon was not a venerated but demonized being. It was symbol of dark forces, enemy, death – the embodiment of evil. It was not that elegant, enigmatic, wise and proud Asian kind of dragon. It was a fire-spitting, curling monster with claws and a fearsome mouth. So being a knight or a wizard and finishing off that hell creature or at least freeing the virgin from his cave you could be sure to become a fairy tale’s or legend’s hero.
Dragon – Drache – Dragón – Drago – Draak: however you call it in your very own language, its name derived from Greek drakon and Latin draco, which both means “snake“ (actually they only share the reptile-like body, though the mythological sea serpent (Naga) resembles him more than the common cobra).
Uther Pendragon, father of the legendary King Arthur, once had a vision of a bright star the beam of which ended in a fire dragon. When he became king shortly after, he realized the dragon as a prophecy and turned him into his fortunate and protective army flag. The Chinese emperors, as well, put themselves and their empire under the dragon’s protection. They believed them to be more powerful than any other totem animal, because dragons were said to control all elements, water, fire, air and earth.
Heroic Siegfried from the Nibelungenlied once bathed in dragon’s blood. What for? Well, after Siegfried finally killed his dragon, a bird told him to do so (and why was Siegfried able to understand “Birdish“: because he tasted the dragon’s blood before).
Dragon blood on his skin would render him invulnerable, that’s what the little birdy gave away. Unfortunately a linden leaf fell onto Siegfried’s back and so left Siegfried vulnerable in that single spot – which should be his downfall later on. “To each his own!“, the dragon would say.
A “house dragon“ is NOT only a fiercely unpleasant woman who is exhibiting insanity. The original meaning refers to far more acceptable creatures. House dragons are believed to bring their owners luck and prosperity. By day, however, you will not recognize them as what they are, for they are shape shifters. They turn into hens, black cats, sheep or pigs. Only by night they transform into fiery dragons. They are quite sensitive and their owners have to jolly them along to keep them.
Year of the dragon. Yes, that’s also a movie title. The Chinese zodiac “Dragon“ is the most popular one in China. The Chinese Zodiac Signs are based on the year that you were born and are presented by particular animals. Each animal is symbolic of a particular characteristic that shape a person
Elliot, Grisu (“I want to become a firefighter!“), Mushu, Falkor – how nice and nuts film and TV dragons can be. Or think about the wonderful Draco from Dragonheart.
Yet there are quite a lot really unpleasant ones we know from books, movies and TV. Mrs. Grindtooth, for example, the one-toothed dragon teacher from the German children fantasy novel “Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver“. Or Katla from “The Brothers Lionheart“. Let alone the dragons of Middle-earth. There are many more left. Just start seeking traces ...
There’s a beautiful story about a building, an architect, a feng shui master - and, of course, a dragon. The building is located in Hong Kong – right between the mountains and the sea. The Chinese believe that a dragon lives on the mountain behind the apartment house. So the dragon’s flight to the sea would be blocked .... a hole in the building, one which the dragon could pass through. Legend has it that a dragon lives on the hillside of Hong Kong. When this building was built, it blocked the dragon’s flight to the sea, so the feng shui masters demanded that a hole be cut into the building, allowing the dragon to pass through.