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The Nine Sons of the Dragon

2016-03-10 17:54:40Share:

  The dragon is a mythical creature that can fly and walk. Dragon can change its form and has divine powers to summon wind and rain. Chinese people called their country “the land of dragon” and themselves "the descendants of dragon”. The dragon is the soul of Chinese Nation.

 

  The Origin of Dragon In ancient times Chinese ancestors lived in a hard condition. Their knowledge about nature was very limited. Different tribes had different totems. They believed the totems were their ancestors who could protect them and avert disasters. One tribe lived in Central China on the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River who used the snake as their totem. Later on when they conquered other tribes, they added parts of other totems to their snake totem. For instance when the tribe with deer totem was annexed, the deer's antlers were added to the head of the snake. At last the mixture image of dragon came into being, which has deer's antlers, camel's head, hare's eye, snake's neck, carp's scales, eagle's claws, tiger's paws; and ox's ears.

 

  In many Chinese legend stories, Nuwa and Fuxi are two ancestors of mankind. Both of them have the face of a human but the body of a snake or dragon. The Yellow Emperor was regarded as the ancestor of the tribes in Central China. Legend has it that he had the body of yellow dragon. Some legend said that he rised to heaven by riding a divine yellow dragon. When the Xia Dynasty was established in 21 century BC, the dragon gradually became the ancestor of the royal family only, which further strengthened the dragon’s dominant position in Chinese culture. There was also one story in the Han Dynasty. The first Han Emperor liu Bang was born due to his mother’s dream that she had an affair with a red dragon. When Liu Bang was drunk he often could not restrain himself from transforming back into a dragon. So the emperor and the dragon were physically combined together. An emperor was believed to be the heavenly son of real dragon who ruled the world by divine right. Everything for the emperor was added the word “dragon”. For instance, the throne was called “dragon seat”, the emperor’s bed was called “dragon bed”, the emperor’s robe was called “dragon robe”.

 

  The image of dragon can be seen everywhere in the Imperial Palace in Beijing. For example, there are 6 huge gilded columns lining each side of the gilded throne in the Hall of Supreme Harmony, each carved with a coiled dragon with its eyes gazing on the throne. The screen behind the throne is also carved with dragons in various postures. Even on the ceiling there are so many dragons’ images. The Nine Dragon Screen Wall has nine dragons in different posture and color. Actually the dragon became the symbol of the imperial supreme power and authority.

 

Nine Dragons Screen Wall in the Forbidden City

Nine Dragons Screen Wall in the Forbidden City

  Dragon’s image appeared in Chinese people’s life a long time ago. The famous jade dragon was excavated in the Inner Mongolia, which can date back 6000 years ago in Neolithic Age. For generations the folk stories and customs relating to dragon have been very popular among the common people. They often talk about dragon. They painted dragon or use the dragon as the motif of the embroidery and paper-cut. The images of dragon in such designs look lovely that contrast sharply with the majestic images used in the palace. Chinese people believe that dragon can bring good luck and keep evils away.

  In china people have dragon dance to pray for good weather in order to achieve bumper harvest. People also celebrate Dragon Boat Festival. Flying dragon kite in spring is also popular among the people. Every 2nd of lunar February is the Dragon Raising Head Day in China. People would like to cut hair on that day for good luck.

  The Nine Sons of the Dragon There is a popular saying in China: “The dragon has nine sons, but each of them is different in appearance and they have different abilities and interests.” The eldest son Qiuniu is keen on music, whose image can be seen on many traditional Chinese instruments. Ya Zi is the second son who is bad-tempered, and inclined to fight, so he often appears on ancient weapons. He can be seen on sword-hilt, knife hilt and battle axe. It is said that his figure can add power to these weapons. Chao Feng is the third son, who is fearless, loves to take risks and watch from high places, so he decorates the corners of palace roofs in ancient China.

  Pu Lao is the forth son, who is fond of roaring and his figure is put on bell handles. He lives near the sea, though he is one son of the dragon, but he fears to meet the big whale. When the whale attacks he fears to roar loudly. Suan Ni is the fifth son who is fond of smoke and fire; His figure is like lion. His likeness can be seen on the legs of incense-burners. He is also used to guard beside the main door. Baxia (or Bixi) is the sixth son, who has great strength and likes to carrying heavy things. His figure is like tortoise. So he is used to carry stone tablets with inscriptions. In China, many famous steles are carried by Baxia. Bi An is the seventh son. The figure of Bi An is like tiger. He is wise and can tell who is good or evil, so his figure became decorations of prison or court. Fuxi is the eighth son who loves literature; his figures are carved on sides of stone tablets with inscriptions. Chi Wen is the ninth son who likes swallowing things. So he is also called the Ridge-Swallowing Beast. He is said to be in charge of rainfall, so the design has the purpose of safeguarding palaces from fire.

The Imperial Gardens