Although much of the western world is aware of Puff the magic dragon not many know of Long the Chinese dragon. Long is actually a general term used to refer to the dragon in China. There are nine different types of dragons according to Chinese mythology. These different dragon types are also referred to as nine degrees. The long is considered to have five distinct life stages.
This mythical character was created by taking physical characteristics of several earthly animals and composing them to form the dragon. The horns on the head of the dragon were taken from the deer whereas the head belongs to a camel. Some say the eyes are of a demon whereas others say that the eyes are of a rabbit. The neck is obviously the body of a snake whereas the scaly texture is reminiscent of a fish. It has the paws of a tiger that feature the claws from a hawk. And of course the ears have been taken from a cow.
Long the Chinese dragon has a personality that is as unique as its physical characteristics. Unlike its western counterpart the long is not an evil character. Rather it is a benevolent character that is known for its bravery and courage. Similarly it is regarded as a symbol of power, might and glory but there is nothing evil about Long.
The nine different types of dragons found in Chinese culture include the horned dragon featuring the horns of a deer. The spiritual, winged and celestial dragons are other varieties of the dragon. The coiling dragon and the yellow dragon are the other members of the family.
The true Long dragon is the horned dragon and it is considered to be the most powerful amongst the entire family. It is believed to have the power to cause rain. Although the horned dragon features a pair of cow ears it is deprived of the sense of hearing. The other dragons are but different manifestations of the Long and different powers have been attributed to them. One of the versions of the dragon is the yellow dragon who is believed to have nine sons!
The different stages of the Long dragon
The original Long dragon is believed to have five different stages of existence. The initial stage is that of the water snake. At this stage the dragon does not look like how we normally perceive them to be. It takes a thousand years for it to reach to the second stage which is known as the Chiao. At this stage the dragon looks like a carp.
The next five hundred years sees the dragon developing at an alarmingly fast rate and it becomes the Long. It soon grows horns which are taken as a sign of wisdom and hence it becomes the horned dragon. Once it crosses the age of two thousand it is known as the Ying Long.
Traditionally the Chinese have a set of five sacred colors to represent the Long. These are black, white, yellow, red and blue. The use of colors is relative to the occasion and each stage and color has its own innate symbolism.