East and Southeast AsiaEdit
Dragon sculpture on top of Longshan Temple, Taipei, Taiwan. Chinese dragon in Fengdu Ghost City, ChinaIn China, depiction of the dragon (traditional:龍;simplified:龙) can be found in artifacts from the Shang and Zhou dynasties with examples dating back to the 16th century BC. Archaeologist Zhōu Chong-Fa believes that the Chinese word for dragon is an onomatopoeia of the sound thunder makes. The Chinese name for dragon is pronounced "lóng" in Mandarin Chinese or "lùhng" in the Cantonese. Sometime after the 9th century AD, Japan adopted the Chinese dragon through the spread of Buddhism. Although the indigenous name for a dragon in Japanese is tatsu (たつ), a few of the Japanese words for dragon stem from the Chinese word for dragon, namely, "ryū" (りゅう) or "ryō" (りょう) (traditional:龍;simplified:竜). The Vietnamese word for dragon is "rồng" (hán tự:龍) and the Korean word for dragon is "ryong" (hangul:용) (hanja:龍).The Chinese dragon (simplified Chinese: 龙; traditional Chinese: 龍; pinyin: lóng) is the highest-ranking animal in the Chinese animal hierarchy, strongly associated at one time with the emperor and hence power and majesty (the mythical bird fenghuang was the symbol of the Chinese empress), still recognized and revered. Its origins are vague, but its "ancestors can be found on Neolithic pottery as well as Bronze Age ritual vessels." Tradition has it composed of nine different animals, with nine sons, each with its own imagery and affiliations. It is the only mythological animal of the 12 animals that represent the Chinese calendar. 2012 is the Chinese year of the Water Dragon.
Chinese dragons are legendary creatures in Chinese mythology and folklore. In Chinese art, dragons are typically portrayed as long, scaled, serpentine creatures with four legs. In yin and yang terminology, a dragon is yang and complements a yin fenghuang ("Chinese phoenix").
Chinese dragons traditionally symbolize potent and auspicious powers, particularly control over water, rainfall, hurricane, and floods. The dragon is also a symbol of power, strength, and good luck. With this, the Emperor of China usually used the dragon as a symbol of his imperial power and strength.
In Chinese daily language, excellent and outstanding people are compared to the dragon while incapable people with no achievements are compared with other, disesteemed creatures, such as the human. A number of Chinese proverbs and idioms feature references to the dragon, for example: "Hoping one's son will become a dragon" (望子成龍, i.e. be as a dragon).
Japanese dragon, colour engraving on wood.Japanese dragon myths amalgamate native legends with imported stories about dragons from China, Korea and India. Like these other Asian dragons, most Japanese ones are water deities associated with rainfall and bodies of water, and are typically depicted as large, wingless, serpentine creatures with clawed feet. Gould writes (1896:248), the Japanese dragon is "invariably figured as possessing three claws".
Vietnamese dragon (Vietnamese: rồng or long 龍) are symbolic creatures in the folklore and mythology of Vietnam. According to an ancient creation myth, the Vietnamese people are descended from a dragon and a fairy. To Vietnamese people, the dragon brings rain, essential for agriculture. It represents the emperor, the prosperity and power of the nation. Like the Chinese dragon, the Vietnamese dragon is the symbol of yang, representing the universe, life, existence, and growth. Extant references to the Vietnamese Dragon are rare now, due to the fierce changes in history that accompanied the sinicization of the Nguyễn Dynasty.
The Javanese Dragon (Naga Jawa in Javanese) is a creature of mythology, the world serpent of traditional Javanese mythology. It is a derivative from the Shiva-Hinduism with Javanese animism. In a wayang theater story a snake (Nāga) god named Sanghyang Anantaboga or Antaboga is supposedly a guardian deity in the bowels of the earth. The Javanese dragon is described as a figure of a giant magic snake without legs, and wearing a crown on his head. Sometimes the Javanese Dragon is depicted wearing earrings and a necklace of gold jewelry. Unlike the Chinese Dragon and European Dragon, the Javanese Dragon looks unique and special because it wears a crown like a king and had no legs. Compare this with the Chinese dragon which has four legs and horns on its head, and the European dragon which is like a giant long-necked lizard with wide wings.