China can trace its historical roots in an unbroken line for more than 4,000 years, and its mythological roots extend even further back in time. From about 2000 to 1500 B. C ., a people known as the Xia dominated the northern regions of China. The Xia worshipped the snake, a creature that appears in some of the oldest Chinese myths. Eventually, the snake changed into the dragon, which became one of the most enduring symbols of Chinese culture and mythology. Read more...
The Chinese dragon (spelled Long, Loong, or Lung in transliteration), is a Chinese mythical creature that also appears in other East Asian cultures, and thus is also sometimes called the Oriental (or Eastern) dragon. Unlike the Western dragon of Europe that is representative of evil, the many eastern versions of the dragon are powerful spiritual symbols, representing seasonal cycles and supernatural forces.
The Chinese dragon is easily recognisable for its long serpentine body that is generally wingless, and its anthropomorphic face, complete with beard. In some eastern cultures, the dragon plays an integral part in creation mythology. Generally, the oriental dragon is benevolent and powerful, bringer of good fortune. Its image was often adopted by emperors as a sacred symbol of power. Thus, the oriental dragon is generally considered a supernatural or spiritual symbol of heavenly power.
What’s your sign? In Western astrology, it’s a constellation determined by when your birthday falls on the calendar. But according to the Chinese zodiac, it’s your shuxiang, meaning the animal assigned to your birth year. Of the many myths explaining these animal signs and their arrangement, the most enduring one is that of The Great Race. Megan Campisi and Pen-Pen Chen recounts this classic myth.