Dragons

Dragons in the Chinese tradtion are similar to the dragons of European legend, but have some notable differences. Chinese dragons were associated with water and rain, not with fire, and were considered to be powerful rather than aggressive.

In North Zhili area a fallen dragon entered a village. With an awkward, heavy gait, it entered a certain gentleman’s home. That was the only gateway that could accommodate its body, so it squeezed its way in. The household all fled. Ascending the tower, they shouted and fired booming cannon and blunderbuss until the dragon left. Outside the gate was a pool of accumulated rainwater less than a full foot deep. The dragon entered it and rolled around in it until its body was covered in mud; trying its hardest to soar into the air, it rose about a foot before falling back down. It lay coiled in the mud for three days, flies clustering on its scales. Suddenly there was heavy rain and with a thunderclap it rose to the sky and left.

 

Scholar Fang and his friends climbed Ox Mountain and entered a temple for some sight-seeing. Suddenly a yellow brick fell from the rafters. Coiled up on it was a small serpent, the size of an earthworm. It swiftly turned a circle and was thick as a finger; another circle and it was like a belt. They were startled and, realizing it was a dragon, ran off down the mountain in a pack. Just as they were midway down the mountain, they heard a single thunderclap coming from the temple that shook the valleys. In the sky the black clouds were like a lid and a huge dragon was winding among them, which after a moment was gone.

 

In Xiaoxianggong Village of Zhang Qiu, a woman happened to be in the fields when a gale sprang up and blew dust onto her face. She felt something in one eye like an awn of wheat. Rubbing it and blowing on it made it no better. Opening her eyelid and examining it closely, the eyeball was in fact undamaged, but there was a red line winding around the eye. Someone said, “This is a dormant dragon.” Terrified, the woman waited for her death. After about three months, there was a rainstorm and suddenly, with the sound of a huge thunderbolt, it split her canthus and left. The woman was completely unharmed.

 

Yuan Xuansi says: In Suzhou, it happened to be gloomy and thunderclaps were booming. Everyone saw a dragon descending from the clouds, its scales rippling, and turning in its claws a man’s head, the facial features all visible. After a while, it disappeared into the clouds. There was no report of anyone having lost their head.