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Interesting Facts About Chinese Dragons

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I've been writing about history online for more than eight years.

Read on to learn all about Chinese dragons!

Read on to learn all about Chinese dragons!

History, Physical Attributes, and Mystical Powers

As far back as 3000 BC, Chinese dragons have symbolized fertility, happiness, procreation, immorality, and activity. These mythological creatures were believed to have the amazing ability to ward off all evil spirits, and in ancient days, they were even considered sacred animals.

The Chinese tradition includes four divine creatures: the dragon, unicorn, tortoise, and phoenix. Unlike Western dragons, which often represent evil, Chinese dragons are very gracious creatures. They are thought of as the ruler of the seas, lakes, and rivers—and they offer the rain to the earth and allow the crops to grow.

Chinese Dragon in Longtan Park

Chinese Dragon in Longtan Park

Chinese dragons originated on totems from various tribes and grew into mythical animals. Long dragons are believed to have nine anatomical resemblances: the horns of a stag, head of a camel, eyes of a demon, neck of a snake, belly of a clam, scales of a carp, claws of an eagle, soles of a tiger, ears of a cow, and a lump on top of the head called a Chimu, without which it cannot fly.

The dragons are believed to have precisely 117 scales. Of these scales, 81 are positive, or yang, and 36 are negative, or yin.

The Buddhists introduced the idea of a malevolent influence that was present in some dragons. They believed that disasters such as tidal waves, floods, and harsh storms directly resulted from people upsetting the dragons.

A traditional Chinese artisan rendering of a dragon, lit up with lights.

A traditional Chinese artisan rendering of a dragon, lit up with lights.

Chinese dragons are often characterized by having bat-like wings that grow from the front limbs but other than that, the majority do not have any other wings. Their ability to fly is entirely mystical and not due to any physical attributes they possess. Beneath the chin of many dragons is a flaming pearl associated with good luck, wealth, and prosperity.

These dragons have acquired a vast array of supernatural powers over the years. They are believed to be able to disguise themselves as something as small as a silkworm or as large as the entire universe. They can hide in water, fly in the clouds, turn into fire or water, and sometimes be completely invisible or even glow in the dark.

Chinese New Year Dragon Dance

Types of Chinese Dragons

There are various types of Chinese dragons:

  • Winged dragon
  • Horned dragon
  • Celestial dragon – Protects and supports the gods' mansions.
  • Hidden Treasures dragon – Guards over all wealth.
  • Yellow dragon – Emerged from the water and gave Emperor Fu Shi elements of writing.
  • Coiling dragon – Resides solely in the water.
  • Dragon King – Technically made up of four separate dragons that rule over individual seas of the North, East, South, and West.
  • Wood dragon – imaginative, inquisitive, and creative. He is a doer and a thinker—and he creates brilliant concepts. His moves are guided by pure logic, and he houses enough drive to make his dreams a reality. The Wood dragon is more than willing to hide his domination and is careful not to offend others. He is much less self-centered than many dragons, but he can be very fearless and outspoken if he feels challenged.
  • Earth dragon – A reflective, quieter dragon who appreciates the opinions of others even if they conflict with his own. He is very reasonable and never a dictator but does demand respect. He is a bit more diplomatic than some dragons and understands communication's importance. He is ambitious, yet his moves are always well thought out.
  • Fire dragon – More competitive and extroverted than the others. He is pushy, critical, and expects a lot from everyone. He tends to be intolerant and short-tempered due to his intense ambition. The Fire dragon is an empire builder but desperately needs to improve his communication skills.
  • Water dragon – Less opinionated and selfish than the others, and he can graciously accept defeat. He knows where and when to apply pressure, resulting in the ability to be a superb negotiator. He is a bit over-optimistic at times and needs to find the ability to relinquish infeasible things and allow himself to concentrate more on achievable endeavors.
  • Metal dragon – Has an unyielding will. He is combative, inflexible, unbending, and does not care about the feelings of others. He is ruthless and authoritative and will destroy important relationships to get what he wants, and he will not let anyone or anything stand in his way. He will go at things alone if others won't support him, and he won't stand for failure, resulting in great success.
Chinese Dragon brush sketch

Chinese Dragon brush sketch

Representions in Chinese Culture

Chinese people often refer to themselves as being descendants of dragons. The dragons' benevolence represents goodness, greatness, blessings, power, excellence, heroism, boldness, nobility, divinity, and perseverance. Chinese dragons overcome obstacles making them energetic, optimistic, intelligent, decisive, and ambitious.

In ancient China, people offered respect for dragons depicted in carvings, paintings, and writings resulting in the dragons becoming the very symbol of their nation. They can ward off evil spirits and protect the innocent.

Chinese dragons are divine, mythical animals that are the ultimate symbol representing good fortune and long life.

Chinese Dragon Art

References and Further Reading

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


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Oriental dragons have been featured in animes like Spirited Away plz watch if u havent it's amazing.

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Such a good article! I hope you can make more of these about mythical creatures!

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i have to write a 500 word paper of chinease dragons!

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Chinese Dragons are the best please bring out more thanks xD

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Lily on March 28, 2012:


josh on March 11, 2012:

This is interesting stuff about dragons

miranda on March 02, 2012:

these are really cooland beautiful animals

JLaszlo (author) from Northwest on February 28, 2012:

I want to say thank you for all of your wonderful comments. To naturalsolutions I want to say that is a good question and I will see if I can put up something on that. Also I believe I did one of the other mythical creatures but I will get something out on the rest.

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i am a 7th grader and we had to do a project on these dragons all the other sights gave me fact but this one gave me a real good idea and awsome facts. i realy like ur work i will use this sight more because it helps me get a good idea of dragons so thx

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I thoght these will be boring but they are not

jhosler on October 23, 2011:

Really interesting hub! You justified your title. Thanks for sharing.

kyogre100 on October 18, 2011:

I'm in verbal and this helped me on my report in dragons.:)

MarkMAllen15 on October 11, 2011:

Really enjoyed their Chinese New Year.

naturalsolutions on September 22, 2011:

That is a long but great read, It is my very first time to know that there's a lot of types of dragon depends to their abilities and powers. So which is more similar to evil the fire dragon or the metal dragon?

You mentioned the three other mythical creatures of Chinese, looking forward to read about those creatures.

micheal on January 31, 2011:

i like dragons a lot

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Madeline on December 30, 2010:

I think Chinese Dragons are interesting. They pretty much were the role model of the Chinese people. So funny that I'm into Chinese Dragons and I'm Chinese!

Zubyre Parvez from East London on August 20, 2010:

Hey JLaszlo,

Interesting article. I didn't know the dragons were divided into the five elements too. I am a Metal monkey Chinese horoscope, maybe that has some correspondence to the Metal Dragon?

Could I add two points to this. In recent times the Chinese Communist Party have adopted Red Dragon symbolism and Chinese Communist Party is a bad entity that persecutes the tai chi group Falun Gong for no reason, having killed 3000 plus of these innocent practitioners. Marx in his Communist manifesto, said an evil spectre had been released over Europe...

Other dragons are revered in Chinese culture, but the red one? It works to destroy Chinese traditional culture where the other good dragons are found and celebrated like in this article.

Just thought I should pass this information to you.

Kind regards,


Western dragons are altogether different from those majestic Chinese dragons...

JLaszlo (author) from Northwest on April 04, 2010:

Silver Poet there are a lot of wonderful legends out there and I enjoy everyone of them. Many of them are retold over and over again in many different ways.

Silver Poet from the computer of a midwestern American writer on April 04, 2010:

Interesting. There's a lot more to those legends than I formerly realized.