Is China a sleeping dragon?
The Chinese dragon
Dragon boat race
Legend has it that more than two thousand years ago, the beloved statesman and poet Zhu Yuan drowned himself in the Milo River in Henan Province in southern China. It was the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, a time when flooding is common in this area. Many Chinese in the area still believe that this could only have been caused by the dragon living in the lake.
Since the death of the statesman, the residents have been moving onto the river in kite boat-like canoes to calm the kite and play with him a little so that he leaves the statesman in peace.
Today's dragon boat season lasts for several months. The boats used for the races have space for up to 80 men - women are not welcome near the water. Each village in the area has its own boat.
In the middle of the boat there is a large drum with which the paddlers are given the rhythm. At the head of the boat is a carved dragon head, which today is mostly made in factories. The Dragon Boat Festival is one of the most important festivals in China, along with the New Year festival, and the dragon is one of the most important mythical animals.
Ancestor of all Chinese
The dragons are an integral part of Chinese culture. The dragon is already of great importance in the millennia-old book of wisdom of the Chinese, the "I Jing".
The dragon determines the seasons and the harvest. In winter it lives in water, in early summer it rises to the sky. This is the time in China when the heavy rains set in.
According to legends, the dragon determines how the weather will develop. If the dragon rises too high, the water will not reach the earth and the harvest will be poor. If it does not rise high enough, it will begin to rain so heavily that floods will occur everywhere.
The appearance of a dragon has also often been associated with the appearance of an important person in China. If a dragon is sighted, the birth of a sage or a new emperor is certainly imminent.
Many emperors even saw themselves as descendants of the dragons. The Great Emperor and the Great Empress of China are said to have been half dragon, half human themselves. Even today, many Chinese make pilgrimages to the city of Huaiyang, where the great emperor is said to be buried. The Chinese call the place "Dragon City".
What do kites look like?
According to Chinese legends, kites live mainly in lakes and other bodies of water, but you can actually find them everywhere. Mountain ridges and ranges of hills can also be the home of dragons - especially if their shape is reminiscent of the body of a dragon.
The Chinese think of kites in a similar way to the Europeans. He is described as a being made up of nine different animals. Accordingly, he has the head of a camel, the eyes of a devil, the ears of an ox, the horns of a deer, the neck of a snake, the abdomen of a clam, the claws of an eagle, the paws of a tiger, and the scaly body of a fish.
Sometimes the Chinese dragons are shown differently in the stories. This may also have something to do with the fact that there are different Chinese dragons. Nine dragon children alone are known.
Each one serves a specific task: one dragon child is responsible for music, another for literature, and still others for combat or vigilance. Depending on their tasks, one can find representations of the respective dragon cubs on musical instruments, gravestones, swords or on the roofs of houses.
Dragons were also among the insignia of the Chinese imperial houses. Since they often saw themselves as descendants of dragons, there were depictions of dragons on the imperial robes, the imperial buildings or on the imperial tea service.
The Chinese called the imperial throne the dragon throne. Whoever speaks of the "dragon China" today, however, usually means the economic power China and thinks more of a western, more threatening dragon.
The year of the dragon
The dragon also symbolizes wealth in China, but above all it stands for luck, goodness and intelligence. That is why the Chinese zodiac sign "dragon" is of particular importance to the Chinese.
The Chinese zodiac has twelve animals, with a different animal each year. Those who were born in the year of the dragon (for example, 1988, 2000 or 2012) are considered particularly lucky. Since the Chinese were legally only allowed to give birth to one child for a long time, there was a real baby boom every twelve years - in the year of the dragon. In the department stores, the parents of the supposedly particularly happy children can then buy rompers, blankets and toys of all kinds with dragon motifs.
The year of the dragon also promises financial success. So it is hardly surprising that company start-ups and other business changes are particularly popular during these years.
The dragon is not only of particular importance in the year of the dragon. Regardless of whether the year of the dragon, the dog or the rat is approaching: Every New Year in China begins with a big festival, at which the dragon is always the focus. He promises happiness and peace for the new year.
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