The Chinese Dragon - Symbolism and Artistic Representations
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Not Just a Design: The Chinese Dragon

Last Updated: 2019-4-1

A pair of Chinese dragons sharing the spiritual orb, carved into a jade charger.

One of the most iconic symbols of traditional Chinese culture, the legendary dragon, is a striking reptilian figure with a long history behind it. Contrary to dragons of other cultures, the Chinese dragon is portrayed long and serpentile with four diminutive legs. It has no wings, yet it is able to suspend enigmatically in the air. Often seen with a beard, the length of the whiskers is attributed to its infinitely long existence.

In imperial China, the representation of the dragon with 5 claws was restricted to all except for the royal family. For this reason, the dragon has become commonly associated with the ideas of profound power, wealth, and success. The most common items decorated with the dragon were pottery, embroideries, and carvings.

The Chinese dragon is often seen with an orb-like object that is actually a pearl. Sometimes in flames, this pearl is a symbol of spiritual power and energy. For this reason, a pair of "prosperity dragons" can occasionally be seen fighting over the orb. Although this is the simplest explanation of the dragon and the pearl, there is a popular legend of how the dragon came to be with his pearl from the Sze Chuan province. To this day, they say that the dragon guards the province. The Chinese dragon is a truly diverse and versatile symbol that not only catches the eye but expresses the values, philosophy, and history of the Chinese people. As such, decor with dragon imagery is commonly gifted to friends or family members destined for fortune and greatness.

See These Other Dragon Themed Decorative Accents

Blue and White Porcelain Imperial Vase with Dragons

Patina Golden Bronze Imperial Dragon Bell

Patina Bronze Prosperity Dragon

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Publisher: China Furniture and Arts Enterprises Inc. China Furniture Logo