The Official Collection of Fantastical Creature Information--Updated Randomly

For all your fantastical creature needs! This is the beginning of my encyclopedia, and I'm collecting as much information as I can on various fantasy creatures. Most of my stuff can be found on wikipedia. However, no source is perfect, so the stuff that is my input is often italicized. Help me by sending me more information at Questkid13@gmail.com

Side Note: There have been concerns about my using Wikipedia because it is not a reliable resource. I am well aware of wikipedia's unreliable nature--but that's exactly why I use it. Fantasy creatures are available to all, and everyone should have a chance to add their "discoveries." This website is supposed to be a fun collection of fantastical creature information with fun images to go with. I am not a reliable source--I'm just a collector. Though at this point, I am flattered that people are concerned with the validity of my site. :)

!!!!This is NOT a forum. Comments are to be informative and generally helpful. Clean humor is acceptable, but NOT if it detracts from the entry. This site is to help people find out more about fantastical creatures!!!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Dragon--Oriental

The dragons in the Orient are depicted as a long, scaled, snake-like creatures with five or fewer claws. It derives originally from the Chinese dragon with slight variations in other countries in the region. In contrast to the European dragon which stands on four legs and which is usually portrayed as evil, the Oriental dragon has long been a potent symbol of auspicious power in folklore and art. And, unlike European dragons which are usually associated with fire, Oriental dragons are more likely to have a close connection with water.


There are some differences among the various Oriental dragons. For example, Japanese dragons tend to be much more slender and fly less frequently than other Oriental dragons, which may cause the Japanese dragon to appear particularly serpentine. While Chinese dragons have five toes on each foot, Japanese dragons have three.


Japanese dragon
A Japanese dragon, also known as ryū or tatsu (龍 or 竜, ryū or tatsu) is a large, fantastic, serpent-like being, and is closely related to other Oriental dragons such as the Chinese long and the Korean ryong. Along with these Oriental dragons, it is usually depicted as a wingless, heavily-scaled creature with small clawed legs and a horned or antlered reptilian head. The ryū can generally be distinguished from other East-Asian dragons in that it has only three toes, rather than the lóng's five or the ryong's four. Japanese dragons tend to be much more slender and fly less frequently than the dragons of Vietnam, Korea, or China, which may cause the Japanese dragon to appear particularly serpentine.


Japanese dragons share a close connection with water, clouds, or the heavens with a focus primarily on the sea. This is a reflection of Japan's geography, as Japan is surrounded by the ocean and is consequently less prone to drought than China.

History of dragons in Japan
Dragon shrines and altars can still be seen in many parts of the Far East. They are usually along seashores and riverbanks, because most Eastern Dragons live in water. The Isle of the Temple, in Japan's Inland Sea, has become a famous stopover for pilgrims who meditate and pray to dragons. Descendants of the dragon became great rulers.

The Kinryu-no-Mai (Golden Dragon Dance), is held at the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa each spring. The dragon is taken through the grounds of the Sensoji in a parade and then into the temple. People throw money into a grate and touch the dragon for luck. After this the dragon is taken outside and there is a performance where the dragon twists and turns in front of the crowd.This festival commemorates the discovery in 628 of the temple's gold Kannon, which is an image of the Goddess of Mercy, by two brothers who were fishing in the Sumida River. Legend says the discovery caused golden dragons to fly up to heaven. The dance is performed in celebration of this and to bring good fortune and prosperity.

Korean Dragon
The Korean dragon is a certain type of dragon which has unique properties that differentiate it from dragons in other cultures. Like other Oriental dragons, the Korean dragon is derived from the Chinese dragon, possibly even a subspecies. Few differences can be spotted from its oriental counterparts except for its four toes used to carry a dragon orb known as the Yeo-ui-ju (여의주).

It was said that whoever could wield the Yeo-ui-ju was blessed with the abilities of omnipotence and creation at will, and that only four-toed dragons (those which had thumbs to hold the orbs) were both wise and powerful enough to wield these orbs (as opposed to the lesser, three-toed dragons). As with Chinese dragons, the number nine is significant with Korean dragons and they are said to have 81 (9x9) scales on their backs.


Ancient texts sometimes mention sentient speaking dragons, capable of understanding such complex emotions such as devotion, kindness, and gratitude. One particular Korean legend speaks of the great King Munmu, who on his deathbed wished to become a "Dragon of the East Sea in order to protect Korea."


Vietnam Dragon
In Vietnam, the dragon (Vietnamese: rồng or long) is the most important and sacred symbol. Similar to other Oriental dragons, it was strongly influenced by the Chinese dragon. According to the ancient creation myth of the Vietnamese people, all Vietnamese people are descended from a dragon and a mountain nymph. To Vietnamese people, the dragon brings rain, essential for agriculture. It represents the emperor, the prosperity and power of the nation. Like the Chinese dragon, the Vietnamese dragon is the symbol of yang, representing the universe, life, existence, and growth.


Evolution?
Throughout history Vietnamese dragons have been portrayed with different features. It is yet unknown whether these dragons were evolving or merely crossbreeding with other oriental dragons to create these various effects. However, in the earlier dragons of the Ly Dynasty were typical portrayed as the following:

These dragons' perfectly rounded bodies curve lithely, in a long sinuous shape, tapering gradually to the tail. The body has 12 sections, symbolising 12 months in the year. On the dragon's back are small, uninterrupted, regular fins. The head, held high, is in proportion with the body, and has a long mane, beard, prominent eyes, crest on nose (pointing forwards), but no horns. The legs are small and thin, and usually 3-toed. The jaw is opened wide, with a long, thin tongue; the dragons always keep a châu (gem/jewel) in their mouths (a symbol of humanity, nobility and knowledge). These dragons are able to change the weather, and are responsible for crops.


Later, during the Tran dynasty. . .
The Tran dynasty dragon was similar to that of the Ly dynasty but looked more intrepid. The Tran dragon has new details: arms and horns. Its fiery crest is shorter. Its slightly curved body is fat and smaller toward the tail. There are many kinds of tail (straight and pointed tail, spiral tail) as well as many kinds of scale (a regular half-flower scale, slightly curved scale).

During the Le Dynasty. . .
These dragons were majestic, with lion-heads. Instead of a fiery crest, they have a large nose. Their bodies only curve in two sections. Their feet have five sharp claws.


During the Nguyen dynasty. . .
the dragon is represented with a spiral tail and long fiery sword-fin. Its head and eyes are large. It has stag horns, a lion's nose, exposed canine teeth, regular flash scale, curved whiskers. Dragon images made for the King have 5 claws, others have 4 claws.


Chinese Dragon
The Chinese dragon is depicted as a long, scaled, snake-like creature with five claws. The dragon is sometimes used in the West as a national emblem of China. However, this usage within both the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China on Taiwan is rare.


As with the other Oriental dragons, the Chinese dragon has often been depicted with a horse's head and a snake's tail. Further, there are expressions as 'three joints' and 'nine resemblances' (of the dragon), to wit: from head to shoulder, from shoulder to breast, from breast to tail. These are the joints; as to the nine resemblances, they are the following: his horns resemble those of a stag, his head that of a camel, his eyes those of a demon, his neck that of a snake, his belly that of a clam (shen, 蜃), his scales those of a carp, his claws those of an eagle, his soles those of a tiger, his ears those of a cow. Upon his head he has a thing like a broad eminence (a big lump), called [chimu] (尺木). If a dragon has no [chimu], he cannot ascend to the sky.


Chinese dragons are physically concise. Of the 117 scales, 81 are of the yang essence (positive) while 36 are of the yin essence (negative). This malevolent influence accounts for their destructive and aggressive side. Just as water destroys, so can the dragons in the form of floods, tidal waves and storms. Some of the worst floods were believed to have been the result of a mortal upsetting a dragon. Many oriental dragons have a flaming pearl under their chin. The pearl is associated with wealth, good luck, and prosperity.


The dragon, especially yellow or golden dragons with five claws on each foot, was a symbol for the emperor in many Chinese dynasties. The imperial throne was called the Dragon Throne.

Dragon toes
It is sometimes noted that the Chinese dragons have five on each foot, while the Japanese dragons have three. To explain this phenomenon, Chinese legend states that all Imperial dragons originated in CHina, and the further away from China a dragon went the fewer toes it had. Dragons only exist in China and Japan because if they traveled further they would have no toes to continue.


However, historical records show that ordinary Chinese dragons had four toes (this dragon was known as Mang), but the Imperial dragon had five (as in the Five elements of Chinese philosophy) (this dragon was known as Long). The four-clawed dragon was typically for nobility and certain high ranking officials. The three clawed dragon was used by the general public (widely seen on various Chinese goods in Ming dynasty). The Long, however, was only for select royalty closely associated with the Imperial family, usually in various symbolic colors, while it was a capital offense for anyone - other than the emperor himself - to ever use the completely gold-colored, five-clawed Long dragon motif. Improper use of claw number and/or colors was considered treason, punishable by execution of the offender's entire clan. Since most east Asian nations at one point or another were considered Chinese tributaries, they were only allowed four-clawed dragons.


A special thanks to Wikipedia and to J-C of Deviantart.com for this slightly stolen image!

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