Chinese dragons are powerful and benevolent symbols in Chinese culture, with supposed control over the watery phenomena, e.g. summoning rain during a drought. Dragons are everywhere in China — in legends, festivals, astrology, art, names, and idioms.

Dragons are seen as lucky and good — quite different to the evil, dangerous, fire-breathing dragons of most Western stories. 

  • Chinese dragons don't exist factually — there is no evidence to prove that they are real creatures.
  •  The Dragon is one of the twelve zodiac signs
  •  Emperors in ancient China were identified as the sons of dragons. And, at that time, ordinary people were not allowed to have items with pictures of dragons on them.
  • Chinese dragons are symbolic of being lucky, propitious, powerful, and noble; not as monsters as they are portrayed in Western stories.
  • Most Chinese dragons' pictures have long bodies like snakes and sharp claws like hawks — less like dinosaurs than Western dragons.
  • Chinese dragons live at the bottom of seas, rivers, lakes, or anywhere with water.

In Chinese culture, dragons symbolize imperial power, good fortune, power over weather and water, and a pioneering spirit.

Imperial Power and Authority

During China’s imperial dynasties, emperors used the dragon as a symbol of their imperial power and authority. Dragon emblems can be found in carvings on the stairs, walkways, furniture, and clothes of the imperial palace. It was against the law for common people to use things related to dragons in imperial times.

Ruler of Weather and Water

In Chinese legend, the Dragon Kings were believed to be the rulers of weather and water, such as rainfall, waterfalls, rivers, and seas. Four Dragon Kings each controlled a sea of China: ‘East Sea’ (the East China Sea), ‘South Sea’ (the South China Sea), ‘West Sea’ (Qinghai Lake and lakes beyond), and ‘The North Sea’ (Lake Baikal). The four Dragon Kings were believed to be the dispensers of rain and wind.

In many Chinese villages, there are still some temples or shrines to worship the Dragon Kings to seek their blessings of good weather for harvests and all year round. In pre-modern times, local people offered sacrifices to appease the Dragon Kings to stop flooding or droughts.

Ancestors of the Chinese People

It was said that thousands of years ago, Yandi (a legendary tribal leader) was born through his mother's telepathic interaction with a mighty dragon. With the help of the dragon and allied with Huangdi (a legendary tribal leader and, by some accounts, the grandson of a dragon), they opened the prelude to Chinese civilization. So, “emperors” Yandi and Huangdi were the ancestors of the Chinese people. It is said that the two emperors were immortalized as dragons before they ascended to heaven.

As time went by, Chinese people began to refer to themselves as ‘the descendants of Yandi and Huangdi’, as well as ‘descendants of dragons’.

Good Fortune

In ancient China’s legends, Shennong the ‘Divine Farmer’ was the son of a dragon and a beautiful princess, and some say the father of Huangdi (the Yellow Emperor). He taught people to develop agriculture and to use herbal drugs. Shennong was considered as a primogenitor of the Chinese people and a hero of ancient China. So, the dragon is considered to bring good fortune, harvest, and prosperity.

An 'Unrelenting and Pioneering' Spirit

The Chinese dragon has been transformed from an imaginary progenitor to a mascot from ancient times to the present. It represents the Chinese people's unrelenting and pioneering spirit of keeping pace with the times.

 Not only has the Chinese dragon prevailed in China, but it's also very popular among Chinese people living overseas. It has become a symbol of China and Chinese culture.

Red Dragons

Red is China’s luckiest color. It is often used to decorate the house/building used for a wedding or festival. The red dragon, therefore, has lucky symbolism. People paint red dragons to decorate their houses or walkways to celebrate various festivals. It is a tradition to use red dragons for dragon dances.

Black Dragons

Black Chinese dragons are often related to vengeance. In some Chinese movies, many criminal organizations or street gangs use black dragons as their emblems. Criminals often have black dragon tattoos on their arms or back, which represent evil or revenge. In ancient China, the black dragon is often linked to catastrophes like storms and floods.

White Dragons

White is traditionally connected to death and mourning in Chinese culture. However, a white Chinese dragon symbolizes purity and virtue.

Blue and Green Dragons

In Chinese culture, blue and green are colors representing nature, health, healing, peace, and growth. A blue/green dragon symbolizes the approaching of spring, new life, and plant growth.

Yellow Dragons

Since ancient imperial dynasties, yellow has been regarded as the royal color. Yellow dragons were a symbol of the emperor. They represented wisdom, good fortune, and power.