Eastern Dragons and Western Dragons
(…) The dragon is the single most well known mythical creature of all time. Its origins date back to the dawn of time and its legends spread across the world. Nearly every culture, at some time, has had stories and myths of dragons. At one time, people firmly believed in the existence of dragons. Some were worshipped as gods, while others were seen as demons that should be slayed. Today, due to modern science, the dragon has nearly been ‘explained’ out of existence. It lives nearly exclusively in fantasy, myth, story and film. Still, there are those who believe as strongly in the dragon as did those of old.
Dragons come in nearly every shape, size, color and even disposition. What a dragon looks like and how it acts is largely up to the people who believe in it. Most dragons resemble large lizards or snakes. They nearly all have scales and most are believed to have some sort of magical powers. Some have wings, others do not. There are air dragons, fire dragons, and sea dragons. Some are cruel beasts, while others are wise sages. The dragon is a very versitile being. (…)
(retrieved 27.01.2014 at http://fantrepose.iwarp.com/dragons.html)
Origin of Dragons
(…) Many people believe that the origination of dragons came from serpents. Rather, they came from snakes and eels that people saw. As time went on and art evolved, these serpents became more and more decorated until they looked more like semi-Chinese dragons or sea serpents.
It is also suggested that people saw mutated eels and snakes or thought that some of their surroundings (i.e. for eels, seaweed, for snakes, sticks) were actually a part of them. Thus making them look as if they were draconic. This actually suggest that dragons were formed out of the misinterpretation of artwork, stories, and sights throughout the ages.
This theory pertains to the remains that people found and called “dragon bones” so it definitely holds no water in battle of where the term dragon came from. However, it does provided an interesting idea that people thought the bones of dinosaurs to be dragons, and they though dragons to be descendants (or parents) to such serpents as the snake and lizard. The Bones Theory suggests that people found the bones and created stories about the fierce creatures that once lived within those bones.
Sadly, this theory is lacking when it comes to civilizations as China and other Asian dragons. Due to their unscientific structures, Chinese dragons and Asian dragons could never have originated from seeing bones. On the other hand, one might think that they either adapted the bones to the dragons or they only found some bones. Whichever the case, this theory is not as likely as the Serpent Theory.
(retrieved 27.01.2014 at http://www.blackdrago.com/theory/origin.htm)
Sumerian Dragons (5000 B.C.)
The first dragons, perhaps, appeared here in the myths of the Sumerians. The Sumerian word for dragon is “ushum.” The story of Zu and Enlil dates back to about 5000 B.C. There is also the dragon known as Kur, and both Zu and Kur were said to have angered the gods. For instance, Zu stole the Tablets of Law from Enlil. Ninurta, the sun god, was sent after each of these dragons. For the most part, he completed the task, and managed to slay both dragons.
Chinese Dragons (5000 B.C.)
A Chinese legend has it, that Buddha told all the animals in the world to come to him. When the journey was over, only twelve animals had made it to Buddha, and so they became the Zodiacs. Among these was the great dragon.
Chinese dragons date back to around 5000 B.C. The Chinese believed that they were the “descendants of the dragons,” too. The goddess Nu Kua was half mortal half dragon, and she spawned dragons that could easily shift from human form to dragons, or vice versa. In addition to this, they could rise to the heavens, go to the bottom of the seas, and even change size.
Chinese emperors were said to be sons of the dragons and wore special robes. Only the Emperor could wear the sign of the celestial dragon because it was the sign of the ultimate power.
Most Chinese dragons did not have wings. However, they would grow branch-like wings when they became one thousand years old. It is then that they are called Ying-Lung.
Some are also known as Chiao or Chiao-Lung. This is usually a fish that has managed to become a dragon. For most fish, the challenge is to jump through miraculous gates on the ocean floor. For some, however, they grow to a certain age and become a dragon.
There is a story of one called Hai Li Bu. Out walking one day, he came upon a goose killing a snake. Hai Li Bu felt badly for the snake, so he stopped the goose from killing it. This snake was the daughter of the Dragon King, and Hai Li Bu was rewarded with a magical gem that could help him decipher what the animals were saying. He, however, was not allowed to repeat anything the animals said, or he would turn to stone. One day, Hai Li Bu heard the animals speaking of the coming of a great flood. Unable to simply let mankind die, he warned them of the flood, and Hai Li Bu turned to stone.
There is also a story of a great flood. Tien Ti, emperor of the heavens, looked down upon the earth and saw that it must be reformed, as the wickedness of the world was too much. With that, he sent down a great flood to destroy it. The god Tu, taking pity upon man, begged for Tien Ti to stop. With that, Tien Ti created a turtle and placed magic earth upon his back so that it would soak up the water. After this was done, Tien Ti sent out a emerald-scaled Ying-Lung dragon that flew over the world, carving the valleys and rivers with its tail. (…)
(retrieved 27.01.2014 at http://www.blackdrago.com/history/outline.htm)
(…) The eastern dragons (most notably the Chinese and Japanese ones) are quite different from those found in the west. First of all, they are more commonly seen as benign and wise. The dragon is one of the four celestial creatures (the others being the unicorn, the phoenix and the tortoise) and is held in reverence. The dragon is a symbol of the emperor just as the phoenix is the symbol of the empress. (…)
(retrieved 27.01.2014 at http://fantrepose.iwarp.com/lung.html)
(retrieved 27.01.2014 at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nine-Dragons1.jpg)
Detail of the Nine Dragons scroll painting by Chen Rong, 1244, Song Dynasty
(…) Given the span of history and span of geography that the Eastern Dragon traverses, it is perhaps unfair to attempt to summarize all variations under a particular heading. Throughout history, the shape and temperament of Eastern Dragons changed, leaving many species of Eastern Dragons as well.
For a brief generalization, the Eastern Dragon inherited today has the body of a snake, belly of a frog, scales of a carp, head of a camel, horns of a giant stag, the eyes of a hare, ears like a bull, a neck like an iguana, paws like a tigers, and claws like an eagle. Eastern dragons are described with an angelic authority and beauty. They possess incredible wisdom. (…)
(retrieved 27.01.2014 at http://www.blackdrago.com/types/eastern.htm#power)
(—) Chinese dragons have five toes. The Chinese believe that all eastern dragons originated from China. They believed that when the dragons flew away, they began to lose toes. The farther and farther the dragons flew, the more toes they lost. So, Korean dragons have four toes, and Japanese dragons have three.
Japanese dragons have three toes. The Japanese believe that all eastern dragons originated from Japan. They also believed that when the dragons began to leave Japan, they gain toes. The farther the dragons went, the more toes they gained. This is why the other dragons have more toes. The breath of Japanese dragons turned into clouds, which could produce rain or fire. Due to a measure upon their heads, they could ascend to Heaven when they chose.
Korean dragons have four toes. The Koreans believe that all eastern dragons originated from Korea. When the dragons leave Korea and go toward China, they gain toes. When the dragons leave Korea and go toward Japan, they lose toes.
Other interesting things to note is the differences between the dragons in pictures. For instance, males usually have clubs in their tails while females hold fans. These dragons can also be depicted as descending from the sky or inside clouds. Sometimes you might even be able to see a pearl, which is considered a ‘Pearl of Wisdom’ that the dragons possess.
Other things to look for include horns. Male horns were thinner near the base of the head and thicker and stronger outwardly.
Females have ‘nicer’ manes. Rather, they are rounder, and thus seen as more balanced than the rigid mane of the males. Their noses are usually straighter, their scales thinner, (after all, they are smaller!) and finally, a thicker tail. ‘Thicker’ meaning throughout the body.
Eastern Dragons are born with their colors based upon the age and color of their parents. The colors of dragons are: white, red, black, blue, and yellow. Each is born to a different parent.
Black dragons are children of a thousand-year-old dragon that is black-gold. They are symbols of the North. They caused storms by battling in the air.
Blue dragons are children of blue-gold dragons that are eight hundred years old. They are purest blue colors, and they are the sign of the coming spring. They are they are the symbol of the East.
Yellow dragons are born from yellow-gold dragons who are one thousand years or older. They hold no symbol. They are secluded and wander alone. They appear at ‘the perfect moment’ and at all other times remain hidden. Yellows are also the most revered of the dragons.
Red dragons descend from a red-gold dragon who is about one thousand years of age. They are the symbol for the West, and are much like black dragons. They can cause storms in the skies when they fight.
White dragons come from white-gold dragons of a thousand years of age. They symbolize the South. White is the Chinese color of mourning, and these dragons are a sign of death. (…)
(retrieved 27.01.2014 at http://www.blackdrago.com/easterndragons.htm)
Western Dragons usually have an evil character. It has the body of a reptile with wings. They can fly, spit fire, steal and likes to kidnap princesses. Maybe they keep the princesses as hostages, maybe just for helping in the household. Some demand regular sacrifices of virgins. Western dragons usually live in a deep cave, where they store the immense treasure they stole. Western dragons cause enormous damages, so huge rewards are set out for their killing. Western dragons can get several hundred years old and gather an enormous wisdom. Even if it seems, if they would have no gender, they are usually treated as male. The story about St. George is the most common tale about dragons in the Western world (Ann. of the Author).
(retrieved 27.01.2014 at http://static3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20100328113860/drachen/de/images/6/63/St.Georg.jpg)
(…) Then said S. George: Fair daughter, doubt ye no thing hereof for I shall help thee in the name of Jesus Christ. She said: For God’s sake, good knight, go your way, and abide not with me, for ye may not deliver me.
Thus as they spake together the dragon appeared and came running to them, and S. George was upon his horse, and drew out his sword and garnished him with the sign of the cross, and rode hardily against the dragon which came towards him, and smote him with his spear and hurt him sore and threw him to the ground. And after said to the maid: Deliver to me your girdle, and bind it about the neck of the dragon and be not afeard.
When she had done so the dragon followed her as it had been a meek beast and debonair.
The Golden Legend via BBC
(retrieved 27.01.2014 at http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/saints/george_1.shtml)