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Chinese Dragon Symbolism Part II

The dragon is an important creature for the Chinese culture , not only appearing in historical terms, but also playing a role in everyday life and special occasions. In this article, you will learn about common associations with dragons, including dances and special robes worn by royalty and high-ranking officials of the past.

Dragons in Association with the Number Nine

The number nine is important to the Chinese. Not only is it the largest possible single digit, but also the number has a connection to dragons. The dragon is typically seen as possessing nine attributes. Generally, the dragon has 117 scales: 81 (9×9) Yang and 36 (9×4) Yin. In classical depictions of the dragon, the creature is often described as having nine forms, as well as nine children.

In readings, you may come across the “Nine Dragon Wall,” which is a screen wall displaying images of nine different dragons, and is often seen as a fixture in imperial palaces and gardens. Walls are comprised of nine large dragons with smaller versions decorating the edge. In total, 635 dragons are found.

Since the number nine was linked to the emperor, only the most senior officials were allowed to wear robes with nine dragons on them. The robes were then completely covered with other garments. Lower-ranking officials would dress in robes with eight or five dragons, which were also covered by surcoats. This was a common tradition that even the emperor followed , his robe with nine dragons was not visible.

In China, a handful of destinations are called “Nine Dragons” , a name that is found in other parts of the world. Some of the best-known places include the Kowloon in Hong Kong and the section of the Mekong is called Cuu Long, which translates into the same thing.

Dancing

Dancing with dragon puppets is one of the activities that the Chinese participate in when they are celebrating holidays, such as Chinese New Year or even the opening of a store in town. It takes a group of people to man the puppets, which are actually ‘life-sized’. Constructed out of cloth and wood, the dragons are maneuvered with the help of poles. A performance may follow their appearance, which includes choreographed moves to music that usually incorporates drumming.

The Dragon Today

Today, the majority of people belonging to the Chinese culture see dragons as a decorative entity, but there are still restrictions to how the depiction of a dragon is approached. For instance, the Chinese government banned an ad that featured a professional basketball player slaying a dragon and defeating a Kung Fu master after the public deemed it disrespectful.

If you are interested in learning how the dragon fits into other cultures, the article titled, ‘ Dragon Symbolism in Worldwide Cultures’ will discuss how the creature fit into the mythology and visual depictions of other cultures, such as Japanese and Korean.