Ancient Chinese Dragons

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Social Studies
Ancient History

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Ancient Chinese Dragons

Dragons are usually viewed by western society as cruel, greedy creatures that sleep on hoards of gold and treasure, or beasts that fly through the air and terrorise settlements with their sharp talons and fiery breath. However, unlike their western counterpart, Chinese dragons are symbols of abundance, nobility, heroism and power. They have gained respect from China’s people for many decades, and as a result, turned into a symbol for the nation itself. Beginning in the Han Dynasty (206BCE- 220AD) emperors started to use the dragon as a symbol for themselves so their lands would prosper and flourish. Therefore, their robes were called ‘dragon robes’, their palace a ‘dragon palace’, their throne was the Dragon Throne and the beds that they they slept on were ‘dragon beds’.

Ancient Chinese DragonsBy Alyssa Harris

Chinese dragons were thought to have the ability to give protection and grant safety to all who use their emblem. They were seen as auspicious beings that brought good luck and could control rivers, rain, lakes and the sea. The Chinese believed that dragons brought fortune and wealth to those that respected them. Shines and altars were also built to worship dragons. They were usually built near rivers or lakes as it was believed that dragons lived underwater.

Question 2:Why were they so highly thought of?

Question 3: How are Chinese dragons different to modern day dragons?Chinese dragons are completely different to what most modern day dragons are like. While non-Chinese or Oriental dragons are more focused on destruction, Chinese dragons are good-natured and usually mean well. There are also notable differences in the appearances between the two types of dragons. Chinese dragons usually have a long, snakelike body with flowing whiskers and long horns while modern day dragons or dragons from European culture are bulkier with bigger wings and can breathe fire. Chinese dragons are closely related to water, unlike European dragons that are more connected to earth and fire.

Question 1:What did dragons symbolise in Ancient China?



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