The impressive Chinese Dragon
Dragons are deeply rooted in Chinese culture. Unlike western motifs or patterns like rose, acorn, berries or grape clusters etc. Chinese Silver were mostly decorated with Chinese culture elements. Each motif / pattern has a symbolic meaning in Chinese culture. According to legends, the Chinese dragon is able to breathe fire, summon wind and call for rain, fly into the clouds and hide at the bottom of the sea; it's also capable of becoming as large as the sky or disguising itself by being as tiny as a pinhead.
Unlike in Western culture, which typically uses dragons as symbols for evil, war or castle-burning, Chinese Dragons are a benevolent symbol in Chinese culture.
Chinese Dragon Box By Zeewo
Development of Conceptions of the Chinese Dragon
- In the Shang Dynasty (1600 BC-1046 BC), the dragon existed as a supernatural power in the mind of ancient people, and it was worshipped as a two-pawed prodigy owing to its ferociousness and mysteriousness.
- In the Zhou Dynasty (1046 BC-221 BC), the image of the dragon was greatly weakened owing to the emergence of the image of the phoenix, and the phoenix coronet was even grafted on the head of the dragon in some patterns, making the dragon more feminine (Yin) and artistic. It is also interesting to note that Phoenix is seldom found on Chinese Export Silver. It is more common on Korean and Vietnam Silver.
A Vietnam Silver Box
- In the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC-476 BC), the image of the dragon became more vivid, featuring a combination of Yin and Yang, which was widely painted as an emblem of good augury with four paws, and it looked more powerful and masculine (Yang).
- In the Qin (221 BC-207 BC) and Han (206 BC-220) dynasties, the image of the dragon was basically finalized in its essentials, featuring long horns, pointy ears, sharp paws and a snakelike belly. Qin Shi Huang (259 BC-210 BC) claimed himself to be the son of the dragon during his reign, as the dragon had become the monarchial power incarnate.
- In the Sui (581-618) and Tang (618-907) dynasties, the dragon was depicted as a prodigy with the belly of a carp, so the scholars who succeeded in the civil service examination were often compared to the carps that jumped over the dragon gate.
- In the Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1271-1368) dynasties, the image of the dragon became more artistically perfect, playing an important role in traditional Chinese paintings, which were of a high aesthetic value.
- In the Ming (1368-1644) and the Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, the image of the dragon became a tool and a symbol of imperial power, which was exclusively for emperors. The dragon was painted with five paws in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
Dragon Riding Clouds
Clouds are symbols of celestial mobility because many gods and immortals used the cloud as a vehicle on which they traveled. The cloud is also considered a portent of good luck, carrying needed rains that enable the growth of abundant crops. When clouds are combined with auspicious Chinese dragons, it makes a perfect emblem to manifest positive effects in your life.
Dragon Encircling Pearl
Another common motif of Chinese Export Silver is the dragon chasing a pearl. The pearl is often depicted with Chinese dragons. The pearl is sometimes thought to represent the moon. In fact, one legend has it that some dragons have become infatuated with the moon, and have gone insane trying to steal it from the sky. Other tales depict the pearl as an egg placed beneath the dragon's neck or chin. The dragon is said to carry the egg away until it is ready to hatch. By far the most agreed upon tale is that the pearl represents the dragon's wisdom - hence the term: "pearls of wisdom."
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