Thursday, February 25, 2010

Day LXXXVII - Lóng

Enter the dragon,
China's supreme scaly one,
Power and prestige.

The mighty reptilian form of the dragon reigns supreme over Far Eastern culture and the most influential tradition in the imagery and dispersed mythology is probably that of China. Commonly conceptualised as a wingless, great scaled serpentine creature with four legs, the Chinese dragon (or "Lóng" as it is known in the local tongue) is venerated as an icon with connotations of power, strength and good fortune. Historically, the Lóng is linked to the prestige of the Emperor (a dragon with 5-claws symbolises the Imperial ruler), the water element and Han Chinese cultural identity and such is its celestial and social significance that disfiguring a depiction of a dragon is taboo. This all makes a welcome change from Western folklore traditions of evil dragons that must be slayed; the prominence of the Lóng in art, folk tales and popular culture across Asia attests to a wide appreciation of what are awesome supernatural entities. As the most potent and alluring of all dragons, the great Lóng of China commands a colossal amount of respect and should be celebrated (rather than brutally slain).

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