Comparison on the Differences of Chinese Long and Western Dragon Essay

Introduction Chinese long (Chinese dragon) and Western dragon exist in many countries’ legendaries and literature works. They have some similarities but they still have many differences and should not be lumped together. This paper tries to find out their differences and show that they are different in many ways. Chinese long (Chinese dragon) and Western dragon originate from different legendaries and contain people’s different emotions. Their figures and capabilities are different. Chinese long (Chinese dragon) is a combination of several animals and it can fly without wings.

Western dragon looks like a winged dinosaur. It can fly with its wings and spring fire from its mouth. Chinese long (Chinese dragon) combines several propitious animals and it can bring harvest. People believe Chinese long (Chinese dragon) is a positive imaginary. But in the west, Western dragon is a violent evil and it is the embodiment of Satan. It is a negative imaginary. In China, people regard those who are wise and gentle as the son of Chinese long (Chinese dragon). Those government officers wear clothes embroidered with Chinese long (Chinese dragon).

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In I Ching, the most influential book in China, Chinese long (Chinese dragon) has been used to represent quite many things. However, Western dragon in western culture is a negative imaginary. Those who killed a Western dragon would be regarded as a great hero, like the story of Saint George and Dragon. In English, Western dragon can be referred to a person who is violent, combative or very strict. With the rapid development of China, espcially the sponsership of the Olympic Games 2008, Beijing together with the World Expo 2010, Shanghai, it becomes more and more important to reconstruct our country’s national image.

Some scholars thus raise the suggestion that Chinese long (Chinese dragon) should not be the symbol of China in order to gear to the international conventions. In international communication, each country’s culture should be respected. No country should give up any of their specific culture. Chinese long (Chinese dragon) and western dragon refers to different culture. We should let people know the differences between them but not to give up any of them. This paper explains in detail the opposition to the suggestion to give up Chinese long (Chinese dragon) as the national symbol of China

Chapter 1. The Origination of Chinese Long and Western Dragon. The question where Chinese long (Chinese dragon) and Western dragon originate from has been discussed for a long time and it is still an open question. This paper discusses it from its cultural aspects. 1. 1The Origination of Chinese Long In the Spring and Autumn Period, letters on the bronzes recorded that people have caught a Chinese long (Chinese dragon). In I Ching, an ancient philosophical book, there is description that Chinese long (Chinese dragon) can dive into the abyss, fly in the sky, and fight on the earth.

In TSO CHUAN, an ancient Chinese history book, recorded that in 523BC, when Zheng State,a kingdom in the Spring and Autumn Period, suffered flood, people said they saw Chinese longs fighting outside of the City gate. Chinese long (Chinese dragon) is also discribed in Shan Hai Ching, a book on ancient Chinese geography. But here Shan Hai Ching appears to convey those supernatural beings. According to the archeological discoveries, the earliest Chinese long (Chinese dragon) appeared 6,000 years ago, Chinese long (Chinese dragon) was found painted in lots of potteries from tombs of Painted Pottery Culture Period.

Thus we can see that Chinese long (Chinese dragon) is an important element in Chinese culture. About the antitype of Chinese long (Chinese dragon), the famous scholar Wen Yiduo talked about it in 1940s. [16]He thought that the main body and basic figure of Chinese long (Chinese dragon) was snake, and later a people whose totem was this kind of huge snake absorbs some other peoples’ totem. The snake combined the feet of animals, the head of horse, the tail of mane, and the horns of deer and so on, and then here came the Chinese long (Chinese dragon) of what we could see now.

In 1934, Wei Juxian came up the idea that the antitype of Chinese long (Chinese dragon) was crocodile. Liu Chenghuai believed that the main body of Chinese long (Chinese dragon) was snake, lizard and horse. According to Zhu Tianshun’s opinion, Chinese long (Chinese dragon) originated from lightening. Hu Changjian believed that Chinese long (Chinese dragon) originated from rainbow. The origination of Chinese long (Chinese dragon) is still an open question, but we can see that no matter what Chinese long originates from, it plays an important role in Chinese history.

The newest study believes that Chinese long (Chinese dragon) originated from thundering. It is studied that combined with the natural stone long which is discovered in Yichuan, Henan Province, and the sound of Chinese long (Chinese dragon), the scholars gain a new realization on the origination of Chinese long. Through the study of the natural stone long, scholars find that the natural stone long located near the famous capital Luoyang. In the prehistoric civilization, ancient people found that each year, if the thunder sound came from the area where the stone long located on the day of Spring Equinox, the year will be a harvest year. f the thunder sound came before the Spring Equinox, the summer will be flooded, and if the thunder sound came after the Spring Equinox, the summer will be drought. In ancient time, people lived on farming. The weather was so important that it decided the harvest of the year. After a long time, people combined the stone long and the thunder sound. Here we can see, in Chinese, Chinese long (Chinese dragon) sounds like “long”. At the same time, we can see that the origination of Chinese long does have some relation with rain and clouds. 1. The Origination of Western Dragon Western dragon has a long history as well as Chinese long (Chinese dragon). [17]In Greek myth, Zeus fights with Typhoeus, a huge monster with a hundred heads, Zeus wins but Typhoeus fights stubbornly and made the Etan volcano. Typhoeus is a dragon. In the Holy Bible, dragon is serpent. In Geesis, Stan embodied himself to a serpent and temped Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. In the Revelation, it says “The great was hurled down——that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole astray”. In the Old

Testament, it refers many times that Western dragon originates from Greece, and Western dragon is described as a huge sea monster, or a viper. 1. 3Summary From the above-mentioned discussion, we can see that Chinese long (Chinese dragon) appears in some historical and philosophical books. It has more connection with the people’s farming work and conveys people’s good hope to the world. Chinese long (Chinese dragon) expresses Chinese people’s wish of the harmonious between human and nature. On the other hand, Western dragon appears more in myth and religion books. It has more connection with people’s religious life.

But as it is a negative imaginary, its influence cannot reach that of Chinese long (Chinese dragon). Chapter 2. Figures and Capabilities of Chinese Long and Western Dragon 2. 1 Figures and Capabilities of Chinese Long About the figure of Chinese long (Chinese dragon), it is a more like a combination a several propitious animals. There are some historical relics about Chinese long (Chinese dragon) discovered in Inner Mongolia, Henan, Shanxi, Liaoning and Gansu. These Chinese longs appear on some colored pottery pots and dishes, but their figures are quite different from the figures after Qin Dynasty and Han Dynasty.

Some of them have a strong body, long mouth and short nose, which is like a pig. Some have a bending and long body without feet and claws, which is quite like a snake. These are the premier figures of Chinese long (Chinese dragon). After Qin and Han Dynasty, the figure of Chinese long (Chinese dragon) develops to be spotless slowly. According to Er Ya Yi, a book to explain Er Ya, Chinese long (Chinese dragon) has the horns of deer, the head of camel, the eyes of rabbit, the neck of snake, the abdomen of clam, the scales of fish, the claws of hawk, the palms of tiger and the ears of bull. [13]P12.

Its figure has been none of any animal in nature. It chooses a part of birds and animals and rebuilds it up to a new individuality. About the capability of Chinese long (Chinese dragon), it can fly although it doesn’t have wings. When it flies, there are clouds and stars aside it. It is the master of rain, and people believe that when Chinese long (Chinese dragon) appears, the year will be a harvest year. On the other side, according to Shan Hai Ching, when some supernatural go out to a certain place, they use Chinese long as their horses. [16] 2. 2 Figures and Capabilities of Western Dragon Western dragon also has many figures.

According to Microsoft Encarta, Dragon is defined as scaly green monster: a mythical creature that has green scaly skin, wings, and a long tail, and breathes fire. [14] Legends portray Western dragon is snake-like in tits body appearance. The neck of a dragon evidently sways back-and-forth like a snake, so that victims seem to dance before his eyes. Western dragon’s undersides are like heavy armor, and its skin is hard. Like Chinese long (Chinese dragon), Western dragon also has scales attached to its skin. Western dragon’s body is made of very tough materials, heavy and hard enough to endure any attack by human weapons.

Even its inner flesh is hard. In Greek literature, Western dragon is portrayed as a lizard with wings and it can breathe fire, too. After that, western world generally believes that Western dragon is very huge and it has many pricks, sharp teeth, colorful skins and can breathe strong fire. In Harry Potter, written by J. K. Rowling, there are four huge dragons, roaring and breathing heavily. They open their large mouths where there are sharp teeth and breathing fire. [17] Western dragon also can fly, but when is flies, no clouds as well as stars along with it. It flies with its own wings. It can breathe fire. It is the agent of evil. 2. Summary There are two obvious differences between Chinese long (Chinese dragon) and Western dragon. First, Western dragon has wings, no matter big or tiny, wings cannot be ignored. Chinese long (Chinese dragon) can fly in the sky, but it relies on its legendary capability. Second, Chinese long (Chinese dragon) is the embodiment of rain and clouds. In Eastern legendary, Chinese long (Chinese dragon) is the god of rain and it controls whether to rain or not. As above mentioned, Chinese long (Chinese dragon) is a positive and propitious imaginary. On the contrary, Western dragon masters fire, it is a negative imaginary, and it is evil.

It hides itself in deep mountains and forests. When it appears, there will be a disaster for human beings. Chapter 3. Imaginary of Chinese Long and Western Dragon As above-mentioned, Chinese long (Chinese dragon) is a positive imaginary and Western dragon is a negative imaginary. In this chapter, this question will be discussed in detail. 3. 1 Imaginary of Chinese Long Since remotest times, Chinese long (Chinese dragon) has been the totem of Chinese people. It stands for lucky, prosperity and power. Chinese long (Chinese dragon) as a totem is a symbol of Chinese people and Chinese culture.

In Chinese culture, none of any image can match with the image of Chinese long. In Chinese ancient legendaries, Chinese long (Chinese dragon) joined to help Fuxi and Nuwa to give birth to human beings. It also helped Yellow Emperor to fight for the throne and realized the unity of ancient China. In some other legendary, Chinese long (Chinese dragon) is said to help Dayu, an ancient Chinese great man, to regulate floods, and bring happiness to its descendants. Here we can see that Chinese people accepts the happiness and benefit of Chinese long (Chinese dragon) and be proud of being the descendents of it.

In an influential Chinese book-Source of Words, it introduces that Chinese long (Chinese dragon) is a changeable miraculous animal in legendary who can master clouds and rain. It is the leader of blindworms like fish, snake and so on. [10] In the Book of Rites, Chinese long (Chinese dragon) is one of the four deities, and the others are kylin, phoenix and turtle. Every part of Chinese long (Chinese dragon) has its particular implied meaning. The raised forehead indicates cleverness and wisdom. The horns of dear indicate longevity. The ears of bull indicate its talent of learning.

The eyes of tiger show its dignity. The claws of hawk show its boldness and power. The dashing eyebrows show its valiance. The nose of lion expresses its preciousness. The tail of fish expresses its quickness. The teeth of horse show its diligence and kind heart. In a word, the spirits of Chinese long (Chinese dragon) can be summarized as spirit of striving to make progress, the spirit to benefit human beings and the harmonization of man and nature. 3. 2 The Imaginary of Western Dragon Unlike Chinese long (Chinese dragon), Western dragon is an evil and cruel monster that is the symbol of crime and disaster.

Western dragon is considered as a bile-beast, a forceful and aggressive huge monster. In British culture, Western dragon not only indicates a monster, but also refers to a hellcat. In England, Saint George is famous for his brave deed of killing a dragon. In legendary, he drew a cross on his shield, then the Saint George,s cross became the paint on the national flag of England. In England, on the Order of Garter, there is the pattern of Saint George fighting with dragon. Therefore, in Western culture, they are famous for their huge body, physical force and magic power.

Western dragon is a greedy and cruel beast. It often destroys villages and commits all sorts of crime deeds. In Italian legend, Cernunus is a god with horns and it master all fortune, and it is the king of underworld, too. When it appears, a dragon with horn appears along with it as well. People believe the dragon has some relations with fortune, especially the treasures under earth. Although the appearances of Western dragons can be different, they are all greedy and cruel. They like to hide fortune and collect coins, jades and magic things. To a dragon, the more treasures, the better.

With lots of treasures, Western dragon doesn’t want to leave their caves and they just go on patrol around their cave. Western dragon uses its treasure to be its bed and makes it match with its body. When it is very old, lots of jades and coins have embedded in his body. [17] 3. 3 Summary Chinese long (Chinese dragon) is a holy symbol while Western dragon is a horrible monster. Influenced by the differences between Eastern culture and Western culture like history, religious believes, customs, thinking pattern and the way they live, the way they think about Chinese long (Chinese dragon) and dragon becomes quite different as well.

Chapter 4. The culture of Chinese Long and Western Dragon As Chinese long (Chinese dragon) and Western dragon have different meanings and imaginaries, the culture of them is also different. 4. 1 The Culture of Chinese Long First of all, let’s discuss the meaning of Chinese long (Chinese dragon). According to Word and Expression, an ancient Chinese dictionary written by Xu Shen, it defines Chinese long as the master of blindworms. It can hide, spring light, become tiny or huge, become long or short. It flies to the sky on the day of Vernal Equinox and dives into the deep valley on the day of Autumnal Equinox. 11] In Chinese, Chinese long (Chinese dragon) is positive. Words like”???? ” (sounds “long teng hu yue”),”???? ” (sounds “long fei feng wu”),”???? ” (sounds “sheng long huo hu”),“???? ” (sounds “long yin hu xiao”),“???? ” (sounds “cang long wu hu”) are all words to describe a prosperous or propitious scene. The word “???? ” (sounds “long ma jing sheng”) is used to describe the elder who are hale and hearty. At the same time, in many of Chinese peoples, there are legendaries and stories with the theme of Chinese long (Chinese dragon).

In some peoples, clansmen hold Dragon Boat Race and dance Dragon Lantern Lance to celebrate festivals and pray for timely rain and wind. Chinese long (Chinese dragon) is the symbol of emperor. It is written in the Shi Ji, written by Si Maqian, that a goody ever had a rest besides a pool and dreamt to meet a spirit being. Then it thundered and began to rain. When the husband of the goody went to pick the goody up, he saw a Chinese long (Chinese dragon) fly upon the pool. Then the goody became pregnant and at last she bore Liu Bang, the first emperor of Han dynasty.

Liu Bang was born in a common family, it is necessary to make up a story to show that it is the god’s will for him to be the emperor and master the human world. Here, we can see that at that time, Chinese long (Chinese dragon) has been regarded as the symbol of emperor. [] In ancient Chinese, the emperor wears yellow long robe, and no other people are permitted to wear it as the yellow long robe refers to the son of Chinese long (Chinese dragon) and the emperor is the sole son of Chinese long (Chinese dragon) in human world. The court dress of the royal court officials is blue long robe.

In Chinese thinking pattern, only the son of Chinese long (Chinese dragon) can be emperor. The body of emperor is called “”the body of Chinese long (Chinese dragon), the place where emperor lives is called “long ting”, the Chinese long’s court. On the house of emperor, the image of Chinese long (Chinese dragon) is embedded and painted. In Chinese 12 Zodiac, Chinese long (Chinese dragon) is one of them and the sole one which does not exist on earth. According to prophesy on the man born in the year of Long, they are kind, generous and full of vitality and strength.

They are pride and lofty as well as straightforwardness. They hold dreams earlier and request others to reach the same standard. Chinese long (Chinese dragon) symbolizes the emperor or man and it represents power. Those born in the year of Long are male chauvinism and destined to be a leader. In many Chinese ancient books, Chinese long is frequently used to describe man and some other things. In I Ching, there is a sentence like “in the second line, undivided, (we see its subject as) the dragon appearing in the field. It will be advantageous to meet with the great man. In Zhuag Zi, it recorded that when Confucius visited Lao Zi (Lao Tse), Confucius assimilated Lao Zi (Lao Tse) as Chinese long. [16] 4. 2 The Culture of Western Dragon Western dragon is a negative imaginary, and the culture derived from it is derogatory. In the Middle Ages, dragon is the symbol of evil. In the story of Holy Bible, the devil Satan is regarded as the great dragon. Here’s also a idiom “sow dragon’s teeth”. The idiom originated from Greece legendary. It is said that Phoenicia Prince Cadmus killed a fierce dragon and he sowed the teeth of it into the earth.

Then a group of ferocious warriors grew from the earth. They fought with each other and at last only five warriors left. As Cadmus sowed dragon teeth and caused fight, people then use “sow dragon’s teeth” to mean to stir up trouble and make mischief between people. [17] In Greece legendary, Typhon is born by the Gaea, the god of earth. He is a hundred-headed snake who can breathe fire from his mouth and eyes. He is killed by Zeus. Hydra is a nine-headed snake killed by Apollo. Hydra is poisonous and breathe miasma. When a head is cut off, another head will grew up, and the last head can never die.

In Persian legendary, it is recorded that hero Sham and Stammler killed a cruel dragon. The dragon can hide in dark and breathe fire. The blood of it is black and can make the world sink into dark. In Hebrew legendary, the Old Testament ever mentioned some snake monsters, like Leviathan, Rehab, Tannin, Amphisbaena and Wyvern. They are all the embodiments of devils. 4. 3 Summary It is easy to find that Chinese long (Chinese dragon) can be textual researched by historical materials, and the shape of it is successive. It changed continuously from age to age.

In Western world, however, every people have their own expression on dragon. During the process of cultural blending, the figure and imaginary of Western dragon become similar. It can be explained that in ancient legendaries, the figure and imaginary of Western dragon are described quite different, while the modern dragon’s figure and imaginary are quite similar. No matter how Chinese long (Chinese dragon) and Western dragon change, the origination of them are the same, they are all produced by the imagination of humans being. Conclusion

As above mentioned, the differences of Chinese long (Chinese dragon) and Western dragon have been discussed. Chinese long (Chinese dragon) is quite different with Western dragon. In one word, they are two things based on different cultures and different customs as well as different beliefs. Some scholars suggest that we should not use Chinese long (Chinese dragon) as the national symbol of China just because the meanings of Chinese long (Chinese dragon) and Western dragon are different. The reason why Western people misunderstand Chinese long (Chinese dragon) and Western dragon is that they are different.

Dragon in Western culture doesn’t refer to the thing which is shown in Chinese culture. In Western culture, dragon is the embodiment of Satan, while in Chinese traditional culture, Chinese long (Chinese dragon) is positive and active, and anything that has any relationship with Chinese long (Chinese dragon) is propitious. Although we advocate the blend of Chinese culture and Western culture, we have never thought that Chinese long (Chinese dragon) has developed to be replaced in the trend of gearing with the international convention.

It is ridiculous to give up Chinese long for the reason that there is misunderstanding of the Chinese culture and Western culture. Chinese long (Chinese dragon) has been the symbol of China since long ago. Chinese people have been regarded as the descendents of Chinese long (Chinese dragon). As the descendents of Chinese long (Chinese dragon), once the imaginary is changed or be replaced, crisis of belief and deprivation of spirits will arrive. The belief has rooted in the heart of Chinese people, and any change will lose more than gain.

Chinese long (Chinese dragon) as the symbol of China has been identified by foreign people universally. Although there are still some Western people who have little knowledge about Chinese culture and misunderstand the meaning of Chinese long (Chinese dragon), we should communicate with them but to replace our own culture. Every country has its own culture and there are cultural differences, we should respect each other’s culture and learn from each other. This is the general criterion of international cultural exchange.

As there are diversities between Chinese and Western culture, we need to accept the diversity but not to impose to gear with the any culture. To give up the symbol of Chinese long (Chinese dragon) is to give up our own identity. To reconstruct our national image, Chinese long (Chinese dragon) should not be the one which is to be given up, but the one should be well used and carried forward. There are differences between Chinese and Western traditional culture, value, thinking pattern, customs and habits and so on. It is quite common that different peoples have different understandings on the same thing.

It is hard to tell which is right and which is wrong. To eliminate misunderstanding and promote the level of intercultural communication, we must respect each other’s traditional culture. It is unacceptable to reconstruct Chinese culture according to Western culture criterion. The opinion to impose both Western and Chinese culture to be standardized to a certain criterion is unacceptable. It is an expression of west-centrism. Therefore, we should respect different culture and learn their excellent part. At the same time, we should introduce and spread our own culture to the world.


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