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China has the story of the most famous mythological creature, the Dragon. This one creature is a very popular creature in China. Although we cannot know for sure whether the dragon exists, the Chinese people believe that it exists and is very legendary.
In Europe, dragons are always symbolized as evil creatures. However, for Chinese society, dragons symbolize power and power. So great was the Chinese respect for this creature that the mighty emperors proudly wore pictures of dragons as their symbols.
For the Chinese, dragons are one of the four spiritual beings that receive the highest honor. The other three creatures are Phoenix, Qilin (Kirin) and Turtle. But among them, dragons are the most powerful.
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Characteristics of dragons and numbers 9
In Chinese mythology, dragons are very closely related to the number “9”. For example, the Chinese Dragon actually has 9 characteristics that are a combination of other creatures.
1. It has a camel-like head
2. The scales are like fish
3. The antlers are like deer
4. His eyes are like demons
5. His ears are like oxen
6. His neck is like a snake
7. The stomach is like an oyster
8. The soles of his feet are like tigers
9. And his claws are like eagles.
In addition to the 9 characteristics, dragons in Chinese mythology are said to have 9 children who also have different characteristics.
It also has 117 scales. 81 of them have Yang (Positive) characters and the other 36 have Yin (Negative) characters.
In general, Chinese dragons have three or four claws on each leg. But the Chinese kingdom used a dragon emblem with five claws to indicate that the Emperor was not a regular dragon. It later became an exclusive symbol that could only be used by the emperor. Anyone who dares to use a dragon emblem with 5 claws will soon be put to death.
Four Types of Dragons
In Chinese literature, there are at least 100 different dragon names found. However, for ease, Chinese Dragons are usually only classified into four types, namely:
- Tien Lung or The Sky Dragon in charge of guarding the palace of the gods.
- Shen Lung or Spiritual Dragon in power over wind and rain
- Ti Lung or Earth Dragon that reigns over water on the earth’s surface
- Fucang Lung or The Dragon of the Underwater World in charge of guarding the treasure inside. The four types of dragons may smell spiritual, but as I said above, there are still about 100 other dragon names.
Of these approximately 100 names, it appears that the Chinese Dragon is not always related to spiritual beings. It could be that the dragon is an animal that has a real physique.
Therefore, we must separate between the Spiritual Dragon and the Dragon as a real animal.
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Chinese Dragon and Cryptozoology
For example, Jiao Lung or Crocodile Dragon. This type of dragon is hornless and is referred to as the leader of the water animals. Based on its name, it is possible that this type of dragon is a crocodile. This mention is parallel to the name Komodo Dragon which uses the name of the dragon to refer to the giant reptile creature Komodo. This name clearly indicates that the Chinese Dragon does not necessarily mean a flying creature of snake-bodied, horned, murmuring and clawed.
Another example is Pan Lung or Spiral Dragon. This type of dragon lives in a lake and has not been able to climb into the sky to become a spiritual being. This type of dragon may refer to a water creature similar to a snake or eel. An example is Oarfish (which lives in the sea) which has characteristics unique enough that people often compare it to Chinese dragons
It is possible that sightings of Oarfish-like creatures in Chinese lakes have been considered dragon sightings.
Then, there’s Fei Lung aka the Flying Dragon. This dragon has wings and rides clouds and fog. Interestingly, the name is also used to refer to Pterosaurus in Mandarin. Fei Lung is probably the same type of dragon as the European dragon.
Dragon sightings in Chinese history
If some Chinese Dragons can be categorized into Cryptid beings, has there ever been a testimony of its appearance?
The answer: There is!
The history of the Chinese state began thousands of years before AD. During this time, scholars documented every event in neat records, including the appearance of dragons in various places in China.
However, the events poured into it may have been interpreted based on the understanding and culture of the Chinese people of the past so that some of the stories sounded quite mystical. However, other stories bear similarities to encounters with Cryptid creatures.
One example of a dragon sighting is recorded in the book Recording for the Jiaxing Regional Government which tells that in September 1588, a white dragon was seen flying over the surface of Ping lake in Pinghu region, Zhejiang province. The light coming out of the white dragon is so bright that it illuminates part of the sky with a bright red color.
In another book, Recording for the Songjiang Regional Government, mentioned that 20 years after the sighting of a white dragon on Ping lake, a similar white dragon was also seen flying over the Huangpu river in Songjiang, Shanghai. The dragon was spotted in July 1608. An eyewitness claimed to have seen a god standing on the dragon’s head.
The testimony of the god riding the dragon is an example of the testimony of encounters with dragons as spiritual beings. In addition, there are other testimonies that make absolutely no mention of any flying gods or dragons. These testimonies sound very similar to the stories of the appearance of cryptid creatures in general. Below are some examples:
In the 24th year of Emperor Jian’an’s reign of the Dong Han dynasty (219 AD), a yellow dragon appeared on the Chishui river in Wuyang city and stayed there for up to nine days before finally leaving. After that, the villagers built a temple there and an inscription was made in homage to the dragon.
In April 345 AD, the first year of emperor Yonghe’s reign, two dragons, one white and the other black, appeared on Long Mountain. The appearance of this dragon led emperor Murong of yan kingdom to lead some of his officials to the mountain to see the dragons. When they got there, they held a religious ceremony 200 yards away from the two dragons.
Hundreds of years later, on the same mountain, a dragon reappears. This event is recorded in the book History of the Yuan Dinasty
“In July, the 27th year of emperor Zhiyuan’s reign (1290 AD), a dragon appeared near Long mountain in Linxong region, Shandong province. The dragon was able to make a large rock float in the air. There is no further explanation as to how the dragon made the boulder float.
In 1162, a dead dragon was found in Taibai lake. This dragon has a long murmur with large scales. His back is black while his abdomen is white. On his back is a fin, while on his head are two large horns. And the people covered it with mattresses. The local authority immediately ordered the procurement of a prayer ceremony at the site. One day after the discovery, the dragon carcass went nowhere.
Another testimony was recorded by the book Recording for the Lin’an Regional Government which tells the story that in 1631, the 4th year of the reign of emperor Chongzhen, a large dragon was seen in a lake in Yunan province. Due to this appearance, the lake was later named Yilong which means mysterious dragon lake. This name is still used today.
Another book, Amanded Recording of the Tang Dinasty, chronicles the discovery of a black dead dragon in tongcheng territory. This event occurred in the last year of the xiantong emperor’s reign. Interestingly, the book provides a fairly detailed description of the dragon. It is mentioned that the length of the dragon is about 30 meters where half of it is the tail. The tip of the dragon’s tail is flat, the scales are like fish and on its head grow two horns. The murmur beside his mouth is 6 meters long. Her growing legs on her stomach have a red coating. This description is very similar to the classic Chinese dragon image.
Long Ying’s Seven Books and Scriptures also records the dragon discovery that occurred in the last year of emperor Chenghua’s reign of the Ming dynasty. The dragon was found on Xinhui beach in Guangdong province. The fisherman who saw him hit the creature to death. The dragon is approximately 10 meters long and looks similar to the dragon in classical paintings. This story is quite strange because a fisherman who sees a dragon generally will not beat him to death, considering the Chinese have great respect for this creature. Maybe it’s bothering the fisherman, but we can’t be sure.
The Book of History for the Yongping Regional Government records that in the spring of the 19th year of the reign of emperor Daoguang (1839), a dragon was found on the banks of the Luanhe river in laoting territory. The dragon’s carcass appears to be cloaked by flies and maggots. Locals then built a shelter to protect it from direct sunlight. They also water cold water on his body. Legend has it that three days later, the Dragon came back to life and left.
The most modern event concerning the discovery of dragons was the one that occurred in August 1944. A black dragon reportedly fell to the ground in Weizi village in the courtyard of the Chen family home, about 9.4 miles northwest of Zhaoyuan region, south of the Mudan river in Heilongjiang province. The black dragon was found in lifeless condition. Eyewitnesses said the creature had horns over its head and scales covering its entire body. The creature has a fish-like smell that attracts flies to swarm it.
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Of all those testimonies, one interesting question arises. If the Dragon mentioned in some of these testimonies is a real animal, then what animal has a snake-like body, horned, legged and has a murmur on the side of its mouth. That’s an unsolved mystery to this day.