AI Vibes: 'Loong' Time No See! Here comes the Year of the Dragon

By Sheng Chuyi (People's Daily Online) 14:24, February 05, 2024

China is basking in festivity as red lanterns and firecrackers usher in the Year of the Dragon, a legendary creature in the Chinese zodiac associated with divine blessings and fortune.

The dragon, known as "loong" in Chinese, holds deep cultural significance in Chinese tradition. Unlike Western dragons, Chinese dragons are depicted as wingless, serpentine creatures adorned with features from various animals like the carp, tiger, and eagle. So, what exactly is the difference between Chinese dragons and their Western counterparts?

Western dragons, influenced by literature such as "Beowulf," are often portrayed as fire-breathing treasure hoarders. Greek mythology depicts them as vicious sea monsters or guardians of valuable possessions.

By contrast, the Chinese dragon is an auspicious creature, symbolizing strength, wisdom, good luck, and power over the elements of wind and water. As such, Chinese people proudly claim they are the descendants of the dragon. An anecdote in the "Records of the Grand Historian" (《史记》Shiji) tells the story of Liu Bang, the first emperor of the Western Han Dynasty, whose mother dreamt of a dragon lying on her body, foretelling the birth of a future emperor.

Another distinction lies in the realms these dragons inhabit. While Western dragons are closely tied to the earth, Chinese dragons reign over the sky. They were worshipped as the God of Rain, believed to bring rainfall for prosperous harvests. In times of drought or flooding, people would visit dragon-king temples, burning incense to pray for favorable weather.

The dragon's power to control rain and waves is also closely linked to the sequence of the 12 zodiac animals in the Chinese zodiac. This cycle consists of 12 animals representing different years and reflecting people's attributes. The dragon's rank corresponds to the time between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., when fog often occurs, allowing the dragon to ride atop clouds and mist.

The Lunar New Year will begin on Feb. 10, 2024. Let's celebrate the upcoming Chinese zodiac Year of the Dragon to embrace new hopes and a better future! Happy Chinese New Year!

(Ye Jingyi, as an intern, also contributed to this video.)

(Web editor: Sheng Chuyi, Liang Jun)


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