The Chinese Dragon
The Myth of Dragon
An ancient Chinese lexicon describes a dragon as "a long scaled creature which can render itself visible or invisible, small or large, short or long. It rises up to heaven at the spring equinox, and submerges into the deep waters at the autumn equinox." Dragons were meant to appear in the skies during the rainy season in spring and disappear during the dry season in autumn. Some scholars believe that the ancients had not actually seen an animal that looked like a dragon, but rather a flash of lightning in the sky. These majestic creatures are believed to roam the Chinese rivers, lakes, oceans, and skies.
Different parts of a dragon's body resemble different animals. According to one Chinese saying, a dragon has the horns of a deer, the head of a horse, the eyes of a rabbit, the crown of a snake, the belly of a clam, the scales of a fish, the claws of an eagle, the palms of a tiger, and the ears of a rat. A dragon with five claws was used to symbolize the imperial family, and in the Yuan Dynasty (1271 - 1368 AD) the court decreed that commoners were banned from adorning their clothes with five-clawed dragons.
The Dragon Culture
The prevalence of dragons has led to Chinese culture often being called the "dragon culture" and Chinese people being known as "descendants of the dragon." In ancient times, the face of the emperor was called the "dragon's countenance" and his body the "dragon's body."