Mythical Creatures of the East: The Nine Dragons In Chinese Mythology

In Chinese mythology, Chinese dragons hold significant importance in Chinese culture as they are believed to possess control over watery phenomena, such as summoning rain during a drought. These powerful and benevolent symbols can be found everywhere in China, from legends and festivals to astrology, art, names, and idioms.

What are the Nine Dragons in Chinese Mythology

The nine dragons are the mythological sons of the Dragon King, who rules over the seas and the weather. There are many variations in the different descriptions of the nine sons, including in basic facts like their names, but all versions state that there are nine.

Here are the nine dragons and their characteristics according to one popular version:

  • Qiuniu (囚牛): A dragon that likes music and is often used to adorn musical instruments.
  • Yazi (睚眦): A dragon that likes to fight and is often found on sword guards or crossbows.
  • Chaofeng (嘲風): A dragon that likes to adventure and is often placed on the corners of roofs or temples.
  • Pulao (蒲牢): A dragon that likes to roar and is often represented on the tops of bells or gongs.
  • Suanni (狻猊): A dragon that likes to sit and is often found on the bases of Buddhist statues or incense burners.
  • Bixi (贔屭): A dragon with a large shell that can carry heavy objects and is often found under stone monuments or bridges.
  • Bian (狴犴): A dragon that likes litigation and is often placed over prison gates or courthouses.
  • Baxia (霸下): A dragon that likes water and is often used on bridge structures or fountains.
  • Chiwen (蚩吻): A dragon that likes to swallow and is often placed on both ends of the ridgepoles of roofs or palaces.

These nine dragons have different shapes, personalities, and functions, but they all share a common origin from the Dragon King and a common role as protectors of China and its people. They are revered as symbols of auspiciousness, authority, and prosperity in Chinese mythology.

The Significance of the Nine Dragons in Chinese Mythology

The nine dragons hold great significance in Chinese mythology, playing important roles in creation myths and imperial symbolism.

In ancient Chinese beliefs, the nine is a powerful number representing completeness and perfection. The nine dragons are believed to govern the forces of nature, representing water, fire, earth, wind, and more.

In addition, their fierce and majestic qualities symbolize strength, power, and good fortune in Chinese culture.

The dragons are also seen as mediators between heaven and earth, representing the connection between the mortal and divine realms.

Their presence can be found in various forms of art and architecture, such as the Nine-Dragon Wall in Beijing’s Forbidden City.

Even in modern times, the nine dragons continue to have a profound impact on Chinese culture and are celebrated as symbols of national pride and identity. The enduring significance of the nine dragons highlights the deep-rooted belief in their power and influence in Chinese mythology.

Other Mythical Creatures in Chinese Mythology

Besides the nine dragons, there are many other mythical creatures in Chinese culture that have fascinating stories and meanings. Here are some examples:

  • Fenghuang (凤凰): The Chinese phoenix that symbolizes sun, warmth, summer, and harvest. It is also a symbol of everlasting love when paired with a dragon.
  • Qilin (麒麟): A unicorn-like creature that emerges when a wise sage or an illustrious king arrives or passes away. It can breathe fire to punish the wicked.
  • Pixiu (貔貅): A lion-like creature that can swallow everything without letting anything out. It is a symbol of bringing wealth from all directions.
  • Baize (白泽): A cow-like creature with a human head, six horns, and nine eyes. It can comprehend the nature of all living things.
  • Jiangshi (僵尸): A hopping zombie that feeds on human blood. It can be repelled by Taoist charms or glutinous rice.

To sum up, Chinese mythology is full of diverse and captivating creatures that reflect the values, beliefs, and aspirations of the Chinese people. The nine dragons and their kin are not only legendary beasts, but also cultural icons that inspire awe and admiration. They also show us the rich imagination and creativity of the ancient Chinese people who created these stories.

If you want to learn more about these mythical creatures and their stories, you can check out these sources: