Dragons without flames or wings

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.

Nine Dragons in Beijing

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.

Discover Buddhism in China


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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3 Responses to Dragons without flames or wings

  1. merlin says:

    Actually a minor edit, MOST dragons are water creatures, but not ALL. If you remember the great Yellow Emperor was said to have rode a dragon into the sky.

    Actually, I find it odd how similar the dragons in western mythology are to ancient chinese legends. They both have a fearsome appearance. I think Chinese dragons blow smoke. They both are related to wealth in some way. And in at LEAST one instance there is a mention of flight. I’m siding with the Ancient Aliens enthusiasts and wishing there were more seasons.

    • Thank you. I haven’t read about the Yellow Emperor riding a dragon into the sky. When I read that in your comment, it stopped me because in the Old Testament, The Bible, in Exodus, there is a description of Moses watching God arrive at Mount Sinai. Because Moses already told his people that it was God who was coming down, the imaginations of the people did not turn it into a fire-breathing, (and where there is fire there is usually smoke) dragon.

      19:4 – God said, “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.”

      “eagles’ wings”? Is it possible that Moses was carried to God in an aircraft of some kind and it had wings as most aircraft do?

      19:9 – “And the Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever.”

      19:11 – “and be ready against the third day: for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon Mount Si’nai.”

      19:18 – “And Mount Si’nai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.

      19:20 – “And the Lord came down upon mount Si’nai, on the to of the mount:”

      These descriptions reminds me of rockets taking off. If a rocket were to land, it would be a similar scene and it would be possible that many in ancient times in China would see such a scene as a dragon riding a column of smoke and flames into the sky.

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