The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Story of Dragons

This piece originally appeared at the JadeDragon website, an eMagazine. If you click on the title of this post, you will be directed to www.JadeDragon.com. Unfortunately, I've lost the direct link to the orginal text.

The Story of Dragons

According to tradition, Dragon, Linlion, Turtle, and Phoenix are the four self-made animals, and thus they are respected as the Sacred Four. A linlion (unicorn) is a lion-like mammal that has two small horns on the head. A turtle is a reptile with the trunk enclosed in a bony shell. A phoenix is a pheasant-like bird that has three long tails. And a dragon has all the features of the other three: two horns, bony scales, and a long tail.

Dragons have their origin in fishes. Any fish can become a dragon, if it is brave and skillful enough. At anytime in their life, as the story goes, the fishes can prepare themselves for the ultimate test. And that test is a long journey that begins in rivers. The fishes have to swim upstream until they reach the Beginning of Water, or the birth of life.

They always encounter numerous dangers such as predators and obstacles like swift currents and waterfalls. When they meet predators, they evade; swift currents, swim harder; and waterfalls, jump. Many fishes, of course, fail the test. But a fish that is able to reach the highest stream in the highest peak will be able to transform itself into a dragon.

A dragon is a magnificent creature. It has high dreams and hopes, and it lives a wonderful life full of great activities. In Cao Cao's words: "A dragon can assume any size, can rise in glory or hide from sight. Bulky, it generates clouds and evolves mist; attenuated, it can scarcely hide a mustard stalk or conceal a shadow. Mounting, it can soar to the empyrean; subsiding, it lurks in the uttermost depths of the ocean."

Though possessing wonderful abilities, dragons by all means are not divine creatures. They have ambitious wishes, and they have to strive in order to achieve what they want. Dragons know what happiness is, so they bring water and wealth to people. Dragons understand justice, thus they cause drought and punishment to corrupt lands. And dragons love victory, hence they fight or court with each other.

Traditional paintings often depict two dragons striving for the pearls, two dragons courting each other, a dragon making rains, fishes transforming into dragons, a dragon in company with a phoenix, or a dragon flying in the clouds or oceans. Dragons are the symbols of glory. Humans love dragons not only because of their magnificent forms and great abilities, but also because of their soaring dreams and insistent undertakings.

- From JadeDragon.com
- Author Unknown

Tigers are born tigers, and live according to their nature. Dragons become dragons by the dint of their own effort.

- Rick

5 comments:

ms_lili said...

nice piece of historical perspective on dragons. i'm surprised the two dragons wrestling don't have something to do with yin and yang...

Rick said...

Which one would be which?

CARDINAL009 said...

Ms. Lili,

Depending on the status of the dragon(s), it does have something to do w/ Yin and Yang.

ms_lili said...

I was thinking about the part where it said:

'In Cao Cao's words: "A dragon can assume any size, can rise in glory or hide from sight. Bulky, it generates clouds and evolves mist; attenuated, it can scarcely hide a mustard stalk or conceal a shadow. Mounting, it can soar to the empyrean; subsiding, it lurks in the uttermost depths of the ocean." '

meh8899, will you please say more about the status of the dragon(s) and it/their relationship with Yin and Yang?

ms_lili said...

Let me put it another way, in answer to your question which one would be which: who said one was yin exclusively and one was yang exclusively? It's the interplay between the two as yin and yang shifts between them.

Dragons symbolize more -- much more -- than scaly worms that make great subjects for paintings and tattoos...

as i'm sure you know.