The western and Chinese Dragon
The ancient Chinese created a 12-year cycle of Chinese zodiac which is represented by 12 different animals. They are rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, pig. Dragon is the 5th in this cycle, but the most popular, and the only mythical creature.
The figure of typical Chinese dragon has a long scaled serpentine body, two short antlers, four lizard legs, and chicken claws. They are either flying in the sky or swimming under water, controlling wind, cloud, rain, and hurricane. The Chinese dragons usually symbolize divine power, nobility, strength, success, superiority and auspiciousness. Dragon dance and dragon boat race are very popular activities of celebrating Chinese traditional festivals, especially in dragon year like the following one. And sometimes the successful and outstanding person is described as ‘the dragon in human’. In a very long historical period of China, the dragon is also associated with Divine Right of the Chinese emperor who usually claimed themselves as “the true dragon and son of the heaven”. Consequently during this period, only the royal family (or sometimes the upper noble) can use the dragon pattern as decoration, and particularly only the emperor can use the pattern of golden dragon with five claws.
Similar to the European zodiac theory, Chinese also believe in zodiac characters. A man will be characterized with the zodiac animal of his birth year. And because of the positive characters of Chinese dragon, many Chinese parents schedule their pregnancy in order to have dragon baby. It is believed that there might be a new baby boom in China in the following dragon year, the estimated figure for Beijing city is more than 200,000 new births.
Different from the Chinese one, the European dragon is usually portrayed as a huge fire-breathing or poisonous, scaly and horned dinosaur-like creature, with bat-like wings (sometimes leathery), lizard legs and a long...
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