The Dragon


The dragon has been given a prominent place in the Foundation’s literature precisely because it is somewhat controversial and speaks to the importance of border crossing.

The meaning of the dragon changes drastically as one crosses from the West to the East.  In western culture and literature, the dragon is usually depicted as a demonic symbol – representing evil, violence, and distrust.  Most Western dragons are malevolent.

Crossing into Asia, the dragon takes on a very different meaning.  There are Japanese dragons, Korean dragons and nine types of Chinese dragons.  Usually they are symbols of good fortune, harmony, prosperity, and wisdom. Most Eastern dragons are benevolent.

The quotes below explain the differences.

Some individuals suffer from the misconception that the Chinese Dragon is a symbol of evil. This erroneous belief stems from the mythology of the western world where the dragon was thought to abduct maidens, wreak havoc on the populace, steal gold and destroy villages. In the mediaeval context the Western dragon was often the symbol of Satan incarnate. This is not so in the dragons of the orient. In fact it is just the opposite. The dragons of China and Japan are almost exclusively benevolent mythological creatures.

The Official Jiulong Baguazhang Website

Retrieved from Nine Dragon Baguazhang

In Western culture the dragon is usually associated with evil but in the East that’s not the case; the Chinese dragon is a symbol of prosperity, wisdom and power.

In the West, dragons were symbolic of evil and in their legends they were portrayed as cruel creatures that often killed fair maidens and young children. The dragons of the West essentially existed to be the villain for the knight in shining armor; every knight needs a dragon to slay in order to be a hero.

China History Forum

Retrieved from Western Dragon vs. Eastern Dragon

The meaning of the dragon is dependent on perspective.  To understand one another, it is important to realize that the meanings of symbols and words, and   even “dragons,” are dependent on perspectives anchored in one’s culture and bordered by “fences.”

And so the dragon is a symbol that can elicit very different feelings depending on which side of the border one resides. “ Understanding” is premised on crossing over.  The dragon reminds us of the importance of taking that first step and engaging those on the other side.