Dragon King

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Dragon King
海龍王, British Museum.jpg
The Dragon King of the Four Seas, painted in the first half of the 19th century.
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese
Literal meaningDragon King
Dragon Prince
Alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese龍神
Literal meaningDragon God
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese alphabetLong vương
Chữ Hán龍王
Temple of the Dragon King of the South Sea in Sanya, Hainan.

The Dragon King, also known as the Dragon God, is a Chinese water and weather god. He is regarded as the dispenser of rain as well as the zoomorphic representation of the yang masculine power of generation.[1] He is the collective personification of the ancient concept of the lóng in Chinese culture. He can take a variety of forms, the most important ones being the cosmological Sihai Longwang (四海龍王 "Dragon King of the Four Seas")[2] who, with the addition of the Yellow Dragon (黃龍 Huánglóng) of Xuanyuan, represent the watery and chthonic forces presided over by the Five Forms of the Highest Deity (五方上帝 Wǔfāng Shàngdì), or their zoomorphic incarnation. One of his epithets is Dragon King of Wells and Springs.[3] The dragon king is the king of the dragons and he also controls all of the creatures in the sea. The dragon king gets his orders from the Jade Emperor.

Besides being a water deity, the Dragon God frequently also serves as a territorial tutelary deity, similarly to Tudigong and Houtu.[4]

Dragon worship[edit]

The ancient Chinese worship gods of the dragon because the Chinese dragon is an imagined reptile that represents evolution from the ancestors and qi energy.[5] The presence of dragons within Chinese culture dates back several thousands of years with the discovery of a dragon statue dating back to the fifth millennium BC from the Yangshao culture in Henan in 1987,[6] and jade badges of rank in coiled form have been excavated from the Hongshan culture circa 4700–2900 BC.[7] Some of the earliest Dragon artifacts are the pig dragon carvings from the Hongshan culture.

Yellow Dragon[edit]

The Yellow Dragon (黃龍 Huánglóng) does not have a precise body of water of which he is the patron. However, as the zoomorphic incarnation of the Yellow Emperor, he represents the source of the myriad things.[8]

Dragon Kings of the Four Seas[edit]

Cosmological diagram of the Dragon King.

Each one of the four Dragon Kings of the Four Seas (四海龍王 Sìhǎi Lóngwáng) is associated to a colour and a body of water corresponding to one of the four cardinal directions and natural boundaries of China:[1] the East Sea (corresponding to the East China Sea), the South Sea (corresponding to the South China Sea), the West Sea (Qinghai Lake), and the North Sea (Lake Baikal). They appear in the classical novels like The Investiture of the Gods and Journey to the West. Each of them has a proper name, and they share the surname Ao (, meaning "playing" or "proud").

Azure Dragon[edit]

The Azure Dragon or Blue-Green Dragon (靑龍 Qīnglóng), or Green Dragon (蒼龍 Cānglóng), is the Dragon God of the east, and of the essence of spring.[1] His proper name is Ao Guang (敖廣 or 敖光), and he is the patron of the East China Sea.

Red Dragon[edit]

The Red Dragon (赤龍 Chìlóng or 朱龍 Zhūlóng, literally "Cinnabar Dragon", "Vermilion Dragon") is the Dragon God of the south and of the essence of summer.[1] He is the patron of the South China Sea and his proper name is Ao Qin (敖欽).

Black Dragon[edit]

The Black Dragon (黑龍 Hēilóng), also called "Dark Dragon" or "Mysterious Dragon" (玄龍 Xuánlóng), is the Dragon God of the north and the essence of winter.[1] His proper names are Ao Shun (敖順) or Ao Ming (敖明), and his body of water is Lake Baikal.

White Dragon[edit]

The White Dragon (白龍 Báilóng) is the Dragon God of the west and the essence of autumn.[1] His proper names are Ao Run (敖閏), Ao Jun (敖君) or Ao Ji (敖吉). He is the patron of Qinghai Lake.

Worship of the Dragon God[edit]

Worship of the Dragon God is celebrated throughout China with sacrifices and processions during the fifth and sixth moons, and especially on the date of his birthday the thirteenth day of the sixth moon.[1] A folk religious movement of associations of good-doing in modern Hebei is primarily devoted to a generic Dragon God whose icon is a tablet with his name inscribed on it, utilized in a ritual known as the "movement of the Dragon Tablet".[9] The Dragon God is traditionally venerated with dragon boat racing.

In coastal regions of China, Korea, Vietnam, traditional legends and worshipping of whales (whale gods) have been referred to Dragon Kings after the arrival of Buddhism.[10]

Artistic depictions[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Tom (1989), p. 55.
  2. ^ Overmyer (2009), p. 20: "[...] Dragon Kings of the Four Seas, Five Lakes, Eight Rivers and Nine Streams (in sum, the lord of all the waters) [...]".
  3. ^ Overmyer (2009), p. 21.
  4. ^ Nikaido (2015), p. 54.
  5. ^ Dr Zai, J. Taoism and Science: Cosmology, Evolution, Morality, Health and more. Ultravisum, 2015.
  6. ^ Howard Giskin and Bettye S. Walsh (2001). An introduction to Chinese culture through the family. State University of New York Press. p. 126. ISBN 0-7914-5047-3.
  7. ^ "Teaching Chinese Archeology" Archived 2008-02-11 at the Wayback Machine, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
  8. ^ Fowler (2005), pp. 200–201.
  9. ^ Zhiya Hua. Dragon's Name: A Folk Religion in a Village in South-Central Hebei Province. Shanghai People's Publishing House, 2013. ISBN 7208113297
  10. ^ 李 善愛, 1999, 護る神から守られる神へ : 韓国とベトナムの鯨神信仰を中心に, pp.195-212, 国立民族学博物館調査報告 Vol.149

Sources[edit]

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