China the Beautiful

Dragons in Ancient China

Dragons in Chinese architecture, paintings, and culture

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Dragon occupies a very important postion in Chinese mythology. It shows up in arts, literature, poetry, architecture, songs, and many aspects of the Chinese conscience. The origin of Chinese dragons is unknown, but centainly pre-dates the written history.

  • Wine Jar, Ming Dynasty, early 16-th century
    These brilliantly colored large stoneware vessels are one of the most popular wares of the Ming period. The lively design features two pairs of dragons pursuing the flaming jewel amidst sea acn cloud motifs. - From Two Thousand Years of Chinese Ceramics by V. Reynolds,P.H. Curtis, and Y.F. Pei (70k)

  • Vase, Chia Ching reign (1532-1455)
    Porcelain, with five-color enameled decoration of imperial five clawed dragons sporting amid waves. Art Treasures of the Peking Museum.(102k)

  • Gilded bronze dragon
    Tang Dynasty (AD618-906). Excavated 1975, Xi'an City, Shaanxi Province.
    Shaanxi History Museum

  • Royal Dragon Robes of Emperors
    A portrait of Emperor Tai-Tsung, Tang Dynasty (626-649). Both the dragon motif and the yellow color are restricted to the royalty only. (37k)

    The "100 boys" jacket of Empress Xiao Jing is embroidered with figures of dragons, bamboo, flowers, and 100 boys playing games, flying kites, catching birds, and pretending to be officials. Empress Xiao Jing is a comtemporary of Elizabeth I of England.

  • Painting of Emperor Chien-Lung [Qianlong] , Ching [Qing] Dynasty (1736-1795).

  • Robes

    • Dragon robe of a Mandarian
      The Rising Celestial Dragon. Details of a mandrarin robe of embroidered silk, Chia-ching period (1796-1820), Qing Dynasty.

    • Dragon robe silk
      Chuba, Qing Dynasty (17-th century). Metropolitan Museum, New York

  • Emperor KangXi at his desk
    Emperor KanXi of Ching Dynasty. This is his favorite location to pose for a portrait. Peking Museum, Beijing. (208k)

  • Red Dragon
    A pair of dragons on a painted lacquer brush-pot, Wan-li period (1573-1620), Ming dynastry, h. 13 in. (176k)

  • Nine Dragon Wall
    A very popular tourist site in Beijing is this Nine-Dragon Wall in BaiHai Park. After hundreds of years, the colors of the ceramic tiles are just as brilliant.

    The wall was built in 1756. It is 21m long, about 15m high and i.2m thick. It is faced with 424 7-color ceramic tiles.
    At the center of the wall, there is a giant dragon, flanged by four dragons on each side. In addition to these nine large dragons, the wall is covered from edge to edge with many smaller dragons. In all, there are 635 dragons.

  • Jade Coiled Dragon
    Jade coiled dragon, Hongshan Culture (c. 4700-2920 B.C.)
    Liaoning Provincial Institute of Archaeology, Shenyang

  • Nine Sons of Dragon-And where to find them.

  • Calendar of Dragon Boat Races

  • Tricia's Chinese Water Dragon page
    Have you ever seen a Chinese water dragon before?

  • Chinese alligator sinensis

  • Chinese Alligator Fund at University of Florida
  • Celestial Dragons
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