'Descendants of the Dragon' confirmed at the Liaohe River Valley

For thousands of years, the Chinese people have all along regarded themselves as "the descendants of the dragon", but this saying always lacks convincing proofs. With the solid archeological materials about the dragon continuously discovered this year in China's Liaohe River Valley, however, the saying, "Descendants of the Dragon", has been further confirmed. In Chinese people's minds, dragon is a symbol of a good omen and wisdom, as well as a medium linking people with heaven and gods, and is thus given the magic functions of controlling wind and rain, carrying humans to heaven and bringing auspices to the earth. It is introduced into such realms as studies of celestial phenomena, fate and monarchic politics, thereby giving it a more mysterious color.

Since 1983, archeologists have carried out excavations of the Hongshan (Red Mountain) cultural ruins, Niuheliang near the Liaohe River Valley and unearthed a great deal of valuable cultural relics. Of the items excavated, two dragon-shaped jade articles drew most attention. In order to gain a whole picture of the ruins, the Archeological Research Institute of Liaoning Province carried out a final excavation of the 16th spot of the ruins in 2003. The excavation work covered an area of 1, 575 square meters. Six tombs and 479 pieces of relics including jade articles were unearthed. In this excavation, a third piece of jade dragon was found in a tomb as well.

The jade-carved dragon, made of polished jade in light green color, resembles the Chinese character "dragon" in ancient inscription on bones and turtle shells. It is in the same shape as the other two dragons unearthed in 1984.

In the 1970s, a similar jade dragon was discovered in Sanxingtala Village, Wengniute Banner of Chifeng City, Inner Mongolia. Confirmed by professor Su Bingqi, a famous archeologist and president of the Chinese Archeology Society, the jade dragon of Sanxingtala is by far the earliest Chinese traditional dragon-shaped jade article ever found.

Niuheliang Ruins is situated at the juncture of Jianping and Lingyuan counties of northeast China's Liaoning Province. Covering an area of 50 square kilometers, it is the place where the famous Red Mountain culture site is located. Red mountain culture derives its name from the Red Mountain in north suburban Chifeng City, Inner Mongolia, where the site was discovered. Red Mountain Culture was created by tribes living at west Liaohe River Valley about 5,000-6, 000 years ago. Numerous prehistoric potteries and jade articles were discovered here. The head portrait of the "Red Mountain Goddess" and site of an ancient state composed of an altar, a temple and tombs excavated in 1984 once caused a great stir in the world.

At the Liaohe River Valley, carved and portrayed dragons were continually discovered at Zhaobaogou and Chahai ruins of ancient culture, dating back to 6, 000 years and 8, 000 years ago respectively. Hence Su Bingqi and other archeologists concluded that the Liaohe River was the cradle of the Chinese dragon.

Guo Dashun, a celebrated archeologist and an executive council member of the Chinese Archeology Society, said the dragon of the Liaohe River featured various types and series as well as its old ages. The dragon of the Liaohe Rive made in early years can be divided into eight types, namely statue, relief, woodcarving, depicted, colored pottery, clay sculpture, jade carving and color depicting chronologically. A total of 21 dragons were discovered.

Guo said the jade dragon carving unearthed in the Liaohe River Valley vividly shows that the Chinese dragon was a combination of various animals. Among the prototypes were pig, deer, bear and bird. After interaction and influence among these prototypes, through continuous human processing, the dragon design was finalized. The process is closely related to the origin and development of the Chinese civilization, the country and its people. Dragon, therefore, has been regarded as the symbol of the Chinese nation for thousands of years.

Covering a total area of 345, 000 square kilometers, the Liaohe River runs across northeast China's Liaoning and Jilin provinces, the eastern part of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and the northern part of Hebei province, and is one of the cradles of the Chinese civilization and the Chinese nation.

By People's Daily Online



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