It was September 26,
the sky was clear, very sunny, very warm – to think that it’s already Autumn.
I went outside the balcony to put the 2 trays of sliced peaches under the sun. As I looked up at the sky, I saw a long streak of white clouds. What touched my heart? It has a head that looks like that of a dragon. It reminded me of the Chinese and Japanese folktales, anime and tv series , and then movies that I had watched a long time ago.
I’ve never talked about it much but I am in-love with Asian fantasy movies. And then there’s anime, too. The first anime that came to my head when I saw the dragon-shape cloud, is Flame of Recca. Then next is Fushigi Yuugi. These are classic animes during the end of the 20th century. I spent a handful of time recording their episodes on video tapes. With Asian fantasy movies, I have watched so much eversince a kid that I cannot remember any of them. What’s left in my head are the women in lengthy silk gowns going from tree to tree while fighting men in also lengthy clothes. They hung on branches , bamboo sticks, and cliffs using a thin piece of cloth from what they’re wearing. And they perform their martial arts with artistic movements. They also call upon the four Gods of the planet – including dragons. These dragons could destroy or save the world. Some of the characters became dragons themselves; some ride them. Then Ghibli Studio (most of my classic favorite animes are from this anime-maker company!) created “Spirited Away”, which also has a dragon character on it. It was pretty impressive! That’s what I thought until I reached 23. Thinking about my fandom years, what can I do but laugh. Now imagine an anime face that is drooling. Yes, my childhood face that is. ^___^
In literature, folklore, and history of East Asia , especially in China, dragons are commonly used to identify a race and status. The Japanese dragons derived from Chinese. They have specific number of scales: 117 and some are imbued with yin and yang energy. A dragon with 5 claws on each hand and foot, is considered a mighty dragon. That’s why some Chinese empires (somewhere during the Han Dynasty) use this emblem to show power. On the other hand, because each country has their own belief , in Korea, the dragon has the head of a camel, the horns of a deer, the eyes of a rabbit, the ears of an ox, the neck of a snake, the belly of a frog, the scales of a carp, the claws of a hawk, and the feet of a tiger. Doesn’t it remind you of the Egyptian ancient Gods and Goddesses? There are similar creatures in ancient Greek mythology, too. One of them is the Chimera.
In Japan, the dragons are more serpent-like and has a flexible size and power of visibility. They only have 3 claws because in Chinese belief, dragons that travel farther away from China will lose their claws. So you get the hint that Japanese dragons indeed originated from China. Although in their story, it says that the 3-clawed dragons’ homeland is in Japan.
Interestingly, when you see a dragon with a pearl on its mouth or on its chin, this is because the pearl will enable the creature to ascend to heaven.
Let’s speak Greek! (It’s been a while. Isn’t it?)
Our word of the day is “δράκος” (pronounced as “dhra-kos”; the tone is accented on the 1st syllable. ) It is Greek for “dragon”. Dragons and similar creatures also exist in ancient Greek mythology. If you have read the story of Hercules (“Ηρακλής “”I-rak-lis) in order to get his wife back from the realm of Hades (” ‘Αδες ” – A-dhes), he encountered a certain type of dragon which protected the apple he had to collect to complete the job. Haha, I could get carried away talking about Greek mythology so let me stop here for today.
If you are interested: http://www.theoi.com/greek-mythology/dragons.html
Moreover, when I see a dragon, it reminds me of the orient – where it consists of the beautiful countries, sisters to the Philippines. The orient has a rich ancient history, culture, and unique traditions that are as grand as the ancient Europeans. I don’t have the habit of patronizing something but let me say for once: I am proud to be an Asian and proud of our heritage. Amen.