Unlike dragons of Western lore, fearsome symbols of evil and chaos, the Chinese dragon represents nobility, wisdom and prosperity. Eastern dragons are intricately connected to the seasons and the elements and are often associated with one of the four cardinal directions. They also can be categorized by color, as each color bears a symbolic meaning and has associated connotations within Chinese culture.
Blue and Green
In Chinese culture, the colors blue and green are associated with nature, serenity, growth and health. Blue and green dragons symbolize the approaching spring, evoking the clear skies and new plants that the season brings. These colors also are representative of the East and indicate Eastern dragons. Other Chinese associations with blue and green include healing, rest, prosperity and harmony.
Black and White
Black and white are key colors on the Chinese spectrum, representing the balance of the black yin, which is negative, passive and feminine, and the white yang, which is positive, active and masculine. Black dragons are associated with winter and the North, while white dragons represent autumn and the West. In China, the color white is associated with purity as it is in Western cultures, but it also symbolizes mourning and mortality, suggesting that the white dragon functions as an omen of death. The black dragon is known for its power and vengeance and is often connected to storms.
Yellow and Gold
Yellow dragons have been called “superior” and “the most revered of the dragons” because they represent the Emperor and the imperial family. Even in the 21st century, yellow is a color associated with solidity, reliability and warmth, and it is set aside for royalty and those of higher social class. Gold dragons share many of these assets and are recognized as symbols of wealth, wisdom and compassion.
In China, red is the traditional color of good fortune and happiness, and it is often used in large celebrations, such as weddings. The red dragon is associated with luck, fire, passion and the heart. It is the dragon of summer and the South. Other Chinese associations with the color red include vitality, enthusiasm and creativity.
- DragonsInn.net: Chinese, Oriental Dragons -- History and Information
- The Circle of the Dragon: Dragon History -- Eastern Dragon Overview; Kylie McCormick; November 2010
- Nations Online: Symbolism of Colors -- Chinese Customs
- Encyclopedia.com: Yin and Yang; Myths and Legends of the World; 2001
- Crystal Dragon of Taiwan; Dragon Articles; November 2010
- konmesa/iStock/Getty Images