The Difference Between the Chinese Dragons from Western Dragons

The Chinese dragon is also known as Loong, long or lung (龙). For the Chinese, the dragon is a very mysterious and eye-catching strange creature. They like to talk about dragons and are proud to call themselves the descendants of dragons. 

All of these are from Chinese reverence for dragons, which are auspicious, beautiful, and a symbol of authority. In other parts of the world, there are also different species of dragons, especially western dragons, which totally different from Chinese dragons. The Chinese dragon is a symbol of light, power and integrity, while the Western dragons are seen as evil, ferocious creatures. Culture, civilizations and religion play a crucial role in the huge difference between the eastern and western dragons.

1. Origin

Whether a Chinese dragon or a western dragon, their origins are mysterious. The appearance of the Chinese dragon can be directly traced back to primitive society about 8,000 years ago.

The formation time of Western dragons is also in the primitive society period of Greece.

Therefore, we can speculate that the formation period of the Chinese dragons and the Western dragon is basically the same period of primitive society. 

Chinese Dragons

The dragon can be anything and had a reptilian appearance in the middle ages. The origin of dragons is different in Asia, Europe, Oceania, Africa, and the Americas. The Chinese call their dragons Loong, long, or lung. The Japanese call dragon ryuu. India calls their dragon “NAGA”. Koreans call them ryong or yong, and Vietnamese call their dragon rong. Dragon is a Latin word for serpent. Westerns describe their dragons as giant “wyrms” or serpents.

People simply translated the names of those creatures to “dragon”. So nowadays we basically ended up using dragons to describe different kinds of these mythical creatures.

2. Original forms of the Chinese dragons

The Chinese dragon is not a real dragon but a virtual giant serpent-like creature. There are many legends about the origin of the Chinese dragon. Every dragon is different in Chinese tales. Early Chinese dragons had different images, the size, personality and power of the dragon vary from lore. One says it looks like crocodiles, another says it looks like a snake, and there is even a saying that the earliest dragon is the lightning in the sky when it rains. 

According to speculation based on ancient books, the ancients may have called unknown creatures dragons. They’re all large, and magical, many can fly. Most experts now believe that dragons are totem complexes with snakes as the main body. It has the body of a snake, a pig’s head, a deer’s horns, an ox’s ears, a goat’s whiskers, the claws of an eagle, and a fish’s scales.

The Chinese dragon rises up to the sky in the spring and descends back to the ocean in the fall of the legend. 

3. Different Appearances

Chinese Loong and Western dragons are totally different creatures. Chinese Loong is based on certain kinds of aquatic creatures such as crocodiles or snakes, while the Western dragon is a kind of mountain reptile, like a lizard.

Oriental dragon:  lives in water, Serpentine body covered in fish scales, one head, four legs, no wings, slender, and plays with giant shining pearls. 

Western Dragons

Western dragon: one head, four legs with tail, generally have huge wings, look like dinosaurs, lizards, possible mane, short in size.

The eastern dragon is different from the western dragon in other aspects except for the appearance.

4. Spray water instead of fire

Chinese dragons are water-related and govern anything water-related, such as oceans, rains, floods, and tides. They’re worshipped as the noble god of ocean and rain who grants wishes. They are kind and have a positive meaning to human beings most of the time.

Drag Spray Water

So people pray to the dragon kings to end long droughts. Each dragon king has his own undersea palace with his subordinates (usually crab, prawn, fish and other sea creatures).

Western Dragons Fires

While western dragons are generally linked with wind, thunder and spray fire, most of them are negative images.

Eastern people think water is good as rain can help farmers water their crops during the growing season. while for westerners, water is dangerous and means that pirates and hunters are close.

5. Auspicious instead of devil

One of the most prominent differences between eastern and western dragons is that eastern dragons are regarded as gods, and western dragons are generally seen as fantastic beasts. 

In Chinese lore, Loongs are ancient guardians of fortune and prosperity. Loong represents positive energy. They’re very wise and powerful to bring down rain and flood. Eastern dragons are symbols of peace, fortune, prosperity, dignity and authority. Chinese emperors call themselves “the son of the dragon”.

In 1888, the Qing Dynasty designed the first national flag, that is, the “blue dragon playing with red beads on a yellow background” flag.

First National Dragon Flag

Unlike the noble power of Chinese dragons, Western dragons generally represent demons and enemies. Dragons in Western legends are diverse, and their common characteristics are that they are powerful, solitary, and representatives of evil. The Chinese dragon would most definitely win over the western dragon which often is considered to be a symbol of violence and greed.

Chinese Five-Coloured Dragons

Under the influence of the concept of the five elements, people created five-colour dragons: yellow dragon, blue dragon, black dragon, white dragon and red dragon. According to the concept of the five elements, the blue dragon is in the east, the white dragon is in the west, the red dragon is in the south, the black dragon is in the north, and the yellow dragon is in the centre.

In the traditional concept of Chinese people, the yellow dragon is the most honourable and is a real dragon, and other dragons are not real dragons. The ancient emperors were all real dragons, so they all wore yellow dragon robes. Officials and civilians are not allowed to wear it.

Dragons In the Wall

The Nine Dragon Screen of Beijing Beihai Park

White dragon

The five-element of the white dragon is metal. The white dragon symbolizes purity and virtue. In Chinese culture, people also sometimes associate it with death and mourning and see it as an ominous omen.

Red Dragon

The five-element of the red dragon is fire. The red dragon symbolises good luck. For this reason, the red dragon is popular at weddings and other celebrations to attract happiness and good luck.

Red Dragon in The Wall

Yellow Dragon

The five-element of the yellow dragon is earth. The yellow dragon symbolises good luck and power. Some also believe that this dragon can control time and seasons. Since it is the most revered dragon, the ancients often used it as a symbol of empires and emperors. People also commonly associate this dragon with attributes such as warmth, wisdom, and wealth.

Yellow Dragon

Black dragon

The five-element of the black dragon is water. Most people associate black dragons with revenge. Therefore, it is often associated with disasters such as storms and floods.

Blue dragon

The five-element of the blue dragon is wood, representing the season of spring. Blue and green dragons symbolize nature, health and tranquillity. Some associate blue and green dragons with healing, peace, and rest. 

Dragon King of the Four Seas

The Dragon King is also known as the Dragon God. The ancients believed that the Chinese dragon is the god of the water world, and wherever there is water, whether, in rivers, lakes or seas, or oceans, there are dragon kings guarding there. However, in fact, the four sea dragon kings are different.

The Dragon King of the East China Sea ranks first among the Dragon Kings of the Four Seas. The Azure Dragon king is a green dragon whose five elements are water, mainly in charge of rainfall, floods, tsunamis, etc.

The identity of the Dragon King of the South China Sea is very noble. It is a red dragon, because the five-element of southern is fire, and it is mainly controlled by lightning fire. whenever there is lightning and thunder in the sky, the southern dragon king works diligently and can spit out lightning when he opens his mouth. In addition, the Dragon King of the South China Sea also managed the creatures in the ocean and the wind and rain in the world, and command countless shrimp soldiers and crab generals.

The Dragon King of the West Sea is the third among the Four Sea Dragon Kings, living in the West Sea and is a black dragon.

The Dragon King of the West Sea controls the cool climate and changes in climate.

“Journey to the West” is a Chinese novel published in the 16th century, which is regarded as one of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature. The white dragon horse, known as Bai Long Ma (白龙马 in Chinese) is one of the main characters, who is the prince of West Sea King.

Bai Long Ma

The Dragon King of the North Sea lives in a faraway place in the North Sea. It is in charge of the cold air. If snow, hail or frost occurs, which means the Dragon King of the North Sea is active.

The Dragon King of the Four Seas has a special position in Chinese folk beliefs. The ancients had a limited understanding of natural phenomena. In the year of severe drought and flood, they would think that the Dragon King was angry. When they went out to sea and encountered strong waves, they would also think that the Dragon King was furious, so they get used to praying before off to sea.

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