The Chinese Dragon
The Chinese have a long held belief that they are descendants of the dragon, a tradition that is firmly embedded in their culture and in the minds of the people. In the past, Chinese emperors compared themselves to the dragon thereby making it the exclusive symbol of imperial majesty. The emperors wore a gown decorated with a yellow or golden dragon pattern to signify their prominent identity. Anyone other than the emperor who therefore used the dragon as a symbol or wear the shape of a dragon on their clothing could be regarded as offending their ruler and condemned to death.
Whereas in western cultures the dragon is usually regarded as a symbol of malevolence, the Chinese dragon is quite the reverse. In Chinese tradition, the dragons are believed to be auspicious creatures which have incredible power of controlling the natural aspects of the climate and weather conditions, and to bless and influence people’s lives. In Feng Shui, the dragons symbolize good fortune as well as success in any achievement. Dragons also represent Yang, the positive bright force and a powerful energy that carries creativity and activity.
The dragon dance is performed by a team of people or dancers whose job is to animate the dragon puppet to life by raising, lowering or swinging the dragon with poles attached to the dragon body. The dragon dance is usually accompanied by drums and music. Depending on the length of the dragon puppet, up to 50 dancers would be required to animate it properly.
Traditionally, the Chinese believe the dragon dance to be a symbol of auspiciousness to mark key dates. It is also believed that the dragon dance could eliminate negativity, receive blessing for people, and bring an auspicious start to a new beginning. Even today, the dragon dance is still very popular on various Chinese festivals and events such as the Chinese New Year.
>> Previous: The Chinese Wedding Traditions