One of my favorite cartoon characters here on this blog is the Chinese Dragon and its sidekick, Baby Dragon. Imagine my surprise when looking at Xinhuanet this morning, a debate just broke out in China over the status of this very same dragon!
BEIJING, Dec. 12 -- A Shanghai professor's alleged suggestion that the dragon should no longer symbolize China has aroused strong objections from the public.
"Westerners see the dragon as a symbol of arbitrariness and offensiveness. It may lead people who know little about Chinese culture to have a negative impression of the country," Wu Youfu, Party secretary with the Shanghai International Studies University, was quoted by Shanghai media as saying last week.
Though Wu said last week that the report was untrue, it has still stirred heated debate.
Ninety percent of the 100,000 people who responded to a survey on sina.com, the most popular Chinese Internet portal, said the dragon is a traditional Chinese icon and should continue to represent the country.
Experts say that Chinese conceptions of the dragon are different than Western ones.
"In Western countries, dragons are a combination of several small animals. They mainly represent evil and are usually seen as a symbol of arbitrariness and aggression," said Pang Jin, director of the China Research Center on Dragon and Phoenix Culture.
"However, dragons in China are supernatural animals that are always good and not aggressive," Pang added.
It is very interesting how the dragon's people deny the dragon its true nature. The Chinese people are most anxious to have peace. They are pretty clear about this. Peace=them making money, doing business. They are now embracing the idea (for this year) of peaceful cooperation. This is a good thing, too!
Much nicer than shooting missiles over Taiwan. Baby dragon had gotten too restive, what with shooting missles over JAPAN. So mama dragon has taken baby in hand and disciplined him. Note how he now sits on his chair, pouting, but eating his veggies like a good little boy.
The earliest known earthquake detection instrument was invented in 132 A.D. by Zhang Heng, a Chinese philosopher. The instrument was a large (2 meters or 6.5 feet in diameter) bronze jar, with a central pendulum inside. Decorating the jar on the outside were a series of dragon heads connected to a pendulum, each with a ball in a hinged mouth. Directly beneath each dragon head, on the surface of the stand, was a bronze toad, head up, mouth open to receive a ball from the dragon's mouth.
During an earthquake, the ground motion would move the pendulum and cause one or more balls to fall from a dragon's mouth into a toad's mouth. The direction of the earthquake was indicated by which of the dragon heads had dropped a ball.
The dragon is earthquakes. It is the subterranean forces that overwhelms attempts at creating order. Taming or understanding the dragon is most important. This is what court etiquette was all about. This is why the dragon of destruction and disorder was carved into the thrones of China and the cycle of about 500 years of rise and fall of imperial rule simply makes this very clear: the dragon can be confined only at great effort of will of the rulers and if they slip, the dragon emerges and creates chaos and destruction!
The phoenix is a mythical bird which consumed itself by fire every 500 years and a new young phoenix sprang from its ashes. Legend has it that the phoenix lands on nothing but the greatest treasures. It is the highest-ranked bird in China and represents beauty, good luck, the Empress, female energy, and the southern direction.
The dragon, a legendary reptilian monster, is deified in the Taoist religion and was the national emblem of the Chinese Empire. Among the Chinese people, the dragon is traditionally regarded as a symbol of creativity and good fortune, and represents the Emperor, male energy and the eastern direction. The combination of phoenix and dragon is similar to that of a yin/yang, symbolizing the union of opposites.
Creativity only happens when there is some destruction. If there is constant sameness, no one has the urge to create. The restless, probing, bored with the status quo, human forces are also destructive. If someone seeking change interfers with a system that is running along even if the system is falling apart, the forces protecting these systems will fight ferociously to not change. And if the dragon is released, change happens in great cascades!
So I am relieved the Chinese people nearly universally want to keep the dragon flying high. But I do laugh at their notion of the dragon defanged.