Long Dragons in Folklore

Dragons, both Eastern and Western, are rich with deep lore. They possess a veritable horde of mythology and associations about their meaning and significance; in literature, art and even religion. In some cases that lore extends to their actual depiction. Gene Ching, publisher of the a fore mentioned Kung Fu Tai Chi magazine recently commented on this while writing about Qi Demons and Kung Fu Exorcists for his Halloween themed essay:

“It’s a mistake to conceptualize Chinese dragons like western ones. The European dragon is more like a winged dinosaur, an incarnation of the devil, to be slain by Saint George. A Chinese dragon is a chimera-like creature that combines the likenesses of nine beasts: head of a camel, antlers of a stag, ears of a cow, neck of a snake, belly of a clam, scales of carp, claws of an eagle, soles of a tiger, and eyes of a demon. It is an amalgamation of totems representing the nine provinces of ancient China.”

There’s another bit of lore that’s even more specific. It has to do with how one should paint a dragon when practicing Chinese calligraphy and associated brush work. I’ve learned that, traditionally, one paints the dragon’s eyes last as a caution against awakening it and suffer potentially dire consequences. Who wants to be eaten by an unfinished dragon? 

This is exactly the kind of lore which I love and incorporate into my art whenever possible. Take this 25 second example: same characters, different medium.

In celebration of the Lunar New Year of the Wooden Dragon I have this dragon for you to download, print-out and color-in. Just remember to paint the eyes last.

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