The Chinese Year of the Dragon was in 2012 and the next time the dragon will come around is 2024.
In the West, the dragon has wings, spouts flames, eats women and young children and is often killed by knights in shining armor. Even in Tolkien’s The Hobbit, the dragon is a monster that terrorizes, kills and hoards gold.
Not in China where dragons are seldom depicted as evil. To most Chinese, the dragon may be fearsome and powerful but the creature is often considered just, benevolent and the bringer of wealth and good fortune. Dragons also appear in ancient Chinese literature.
Instead of flying, Chinese dragons are seen as water creatures that live in lakes, rivers and oceans. One quarter of the sky is called the Palace of the Green Dragon and the dragon constellation is said to predict rain. The dragon is also the fifth sign of the Chinese zodiac.
When Buddhism arrived in China, dragon symbolism was added to that religion, and in Beijing, there is the famous Nine Dragon Screen.
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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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