Dragon Symbolism in Worldwide Cultures
By Yona Williams 4/14/10
The dragon is a popular creature in mythology, art and literature that is often associated to China, but other cultures in the world have looked at the dragon as a significant symbol. In this article, you will learn how the dragon fit in with the tales and associations of countries, such as Bhutan and Japan.
The Druk (which translates into 'Thunder Dragon') in Bhutenese mythology, is also a part of the national symbol in the country. On the flag, you can see the dragon holding jewels, which symbolizes wealth.
The Golden Dragon Dance in Japan
Each year, the Japanese dragon dance is performed at Senso-ji – a Buddhist temple located in Asakusa. Dancers execute a routine comprised of twists and turns, as they move about the temple grounds. Eventually, they spill into the streets. A legend tells the tale of the Senso Temple, which was founded in 628, as being the handiwork of two fishermen. The two men supposedly found a fold statuette of Kannon in the Sumida River. This was supposed to be around the same time that dragons had found their way to the heavens. The Golden Dragon Dance is meant to rejoice in the founding of the temple. It is said to give the people good luck and success.
The Dragon to the Vietnamese
The dragon represented a handful of different things to the Vietnamese people. They were bringers of rain and played an important role in agriculture. They also signify the emperor, prosperity, and the power of the country. Similar to Chinese dragon symbolism, the Vietnamese see the dragon as a symbol for yang, which offers connections to life, existing, and growth. The visual aspects of the Vietnamese dragon were determined by the particular dynasty in effect at the time. Different characteristics started to appear, including wings, arms, and horns.
For example, the dragon associated with the Tran Dynasty (1225–1400) possessed horns and arms – something previous creatures did not. This version was significant to people practicing martial arts because it was believed that this particular dragon was a descendant of a Mandarin warrior. It probably gave them a sense of empowerment and strength as they went up against Mongol invaders, who they engaged in battle with during this time period.
Portuguese Dragon Mythology
In Portuguese myths, a female dragon called the coca is associated with a tale that the creature battled Saint George on the Corpus Christi holiday. This fight possesses symbolic meaning. When the coca is successful in besting Saint George, crops will turn bad and the region experiences famine and death. However, when Saint George defeats the coca, he cuts off the tongue and ears of the dragon and crops will see prosperity.
The dragon appears in many different European myths and legends. A few other examples include:
· Italy: A famous dragon of Italian folklore is Thyrus, who dates back to the Middle Ages.
· Catalonia: The Catalan dragon (also referred to as a 'drac') usually has two legs and is sometimes illustrated with a pair of wings.
· Britain: The dragon is popular in Wales, as its national flag incorporates a red dragon.