The Dragon Iconography Within The Far East Culture
Ubiquitous in the Chinese art, the Dragon is known to be a mythical and divine being that stands to symbolize good fortune, augur greatness and positive blessing. Dragons are known to have celestial powers for which they are worshipped in traditional Chinese religions. Apart from the Chinese who revere the Dragons, amongst the Koreans, Japanese and the Cambodians Dragons are equally popular. The only marked difference is the Chinese Dragons have 5 toes, while the Japanese have three and the Korean Dragon has four toes. With high versatility and celestial powers, Dragons are known to change color and size and can fly or swim according to the requirement.
But generally, the Dragons are supposed to have the face of a camel, ears of a cow, eyes of the demon, neck like a snake, belly of the clam, claws of the eagle, 117 scales of the carp and soles of a tiger. While legends allude to having humans mate with Dragons and many dynasties of the Far East trace their dynasties to a representative of the Dragon family.
Within the Chinese culture, the Chinese Dragon was the symbol of the Emperor and his Imperial Command and each dynasty traces its lineage to a Dragon. As the Dragon stood for courage, nobility, power and divinity, rulers liked to associate themselves with the Dragon and even prefixed their beds, thrones and rooms with the word Dragon.
There are 9 different types of Chinese Dragons- the Winged Dragon is the only one that is known to fly. The Horned Dragon is known to be the most powerful and can produce rain. To protect the palaces of the Gods is the responsibility of the Celestial Dragon and the Spiritual Dragon has the ability to produce rain and wind. Hidden treasures are guarded by the Dragon of Hidden Treasure and the Water Dragon or Coiling Dragon lives in the lakes. The Dragon King is a group of four dragons that rule over the four seas.
Though Buddhism has been influenced by Dragon lore, Dragons were intertwined with the Chinese culture long before Buddha was born. It was only by the 9th century that the Dragon theme was incorporated into the Buddhist iconography as the protector of Buddhist Law. In Japan, in most Zen temples the Dragon icon is used in the temple names.
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