Dragon Thursday – Dragons – American Museum of Natural History – Creatures of Power Part Three

Good morning!

I hope you have enjoyed exploring the wonderful exhibit from the

American Museum of Natural HistoryMythic Creatures

and their section on dragons titled: Dragons – Creatures of Power.

I am finishing up this tour with links to the last three sections:

Imperial Dragon

Mighty Ruler

Revered above all other creatures in East Asian tradition, the dragon is also a symbol of imperial rule. The Chinese emperor was known as “the dragon.” His hands were the dragon’s claws, and his seat was the dragon throne. United with heaven and earth, a wise emperor ruled in harmony with the cosmos and brought peace and prosperity to all.

From Sea to Sky

Chinese dragons are said to spend winter on the floor of a lake or the ocean. Each spring they rise to the heavens with a clap of thunder, to form clouds and water the land. The dragons embroidered on imperial robes are shown soaring up to the sky from the sea, represented by the broad expanse of diagonal lines near the hem.

At a Glance: Chinese Dragon

  • bump on the forehead called chi mu helps the dragon float up to the heavens.
  • 81 scales, equal to nine times nine, a lucky number.
  • sweet-smelling saliva.
  • excellent eyesight.
  • four legs with up to five claws on each foot.
  • Chinese dragons live underwater in winter. In spring, they rise to the sky and make rain.

Borrowed Dragons

“There once was a king with magical powers who ruled the kingdom of Kuqa, near the western border of China. In those days, the markets were rich in gold, silver and precious gems. But one night, a mischievous dragon turned these treasures to charcoal, and the wealth of the kingdom was lost. So the king struck back. He took up his sword, tracked down the dragon and leaped on its back. Furious, the dragon belched fire like lightning, then soared to the sky. The king remained calm. ‘If you don’t surrender,’ he quietly told the dragon, ‘I’ll cut off your head.’ ‘Please don’t kill me!’ the dragon cried. ‘I’ll take you wherever you want to go!’ And from that time on, the king traveled by dragon instead of by horse, flying swiftly all over the realm.”

–based on a story from the Silk Road, recorded by Chinese scholar Li Fang (AD 925-996)

and Natural History of Dragons

Dragons in the Dust

In legends and folktales, dragons are magical–yet early naturalists often treated these creatures as part of the natural world. Biologists in Europe once wrote accounts of the behavior and habitat of dragons, along with lizards and snakes. Chinese scholars have classified the dragon as one of the 369 animal species with scales. Long before the development of paleontology, people unearthed fossilized bones in Asia and Europe–and believed they had found the remains of dragons from an earlier age.

So They Say

“The dragons of the mountains have scales of a golden color, and in length excel those of the plain, and they have bushy beards, which also are of a golden hue; and their eye is sunk deep under the eyebrow, and emits a terrible and ruthless glance.”

–Greek scholar Philostratus (c. AD 170-245)

To read the full article click on the blue links above.

Be sure to explore more of the current and past exhibits on their website:

American Museum of Natural History


Dragon Thursday – Dragons – Creatures of Power ~ Asian Dragons. From the American Museum of Natural History

Good morning,

Today we continue exploring  the  American Museum of Natural History‘s past exhibit on Mythic Creatures (May 26, 2007 – January 6, 2008).  

Click on any of the blue links to go to the museums website.

Asian Dragons

“None of the animals is so wise as the dragon. His blessing power is not a false one. He can be smaller than small, bigger than big, higher than high, and lower than low.”

–Chinese scholar Lu Dian (AD 1042-1102)

Between Heaven and Earth

The dragons of East Asian legend have sweeping powers. They breathe clouds, move the seasons, and control the waters of rivers, lakes, and seas. They are linked with yang, the masculine principle of heat, light, and action, and opposed to yin, the feminine principle of coolness, darkness, and repose. Dragons have been part of East Asian culture for more than 4,000 years. In the religious traditions of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism, they have been honored as sources of power and bringers of rain.

So They Say

“The dragon’s horns resemble those of a stag, his head that of a camel, his eyes those of a demon, his neck that of a snake, his belly that of a clam, his scales those of a carp, his claws those of an eagle, his soles those of a tiger, his ears those of a cow.”

–Chinese scholar Wang Fu (Han dynasty, 206 BC to AD 220)

Dragon Thursday – Dragons – Creatures of Power – from the American Museum of Natural History

Good morning,

I was wandering the internet looking for something interesting for Dragon Thursday.  I found the website of the American Museum of Natural History.

They have a section with their past exhibits.  From May 26, 2007 – January 6, 2008, they had an exhibit about Mythic Creatures.   Dragons were part of this exhibit and listed as Creatures of Power.

I will share this in parts over the next few weeks.

The European Dragon, which is one I often think of when thinking of dragons, is first on the list.

Grim Destroyer

The dragons that lurk in European stories are powerful, wicked and dangerous. In Christian tradition, they can symbolize Satan or sin. Some nest in caves and guard marvelous treasure. When hungry, they may snatch and devour sheep or cattle that wander too near. They may also eat humans–particularly young girls. Epic poems from the Middle Ages tell of warriors and knights who battle cruel and voracious dragons. In some stories, the hero slays his foe and wins fortune and honor. In others, he fails and is killed.

At a Glance: European Dragon

In European tales, dragons often live deep inside caves, or in marshes near places where farm animals graze. Some sleep during the day, and go on the rampage after night falls.

  • may have wings.
  • kills people with its fiery, poisonous breath.
  • can strangle large animals with its tail.
  • creeps on four legs, two legs or none.
So They Say

The dragon began to belch out flames
and burn bright homesteads; there was a hot glow
that scared everyone, for the vile sky-winger
would leave nothing alive in his wake.”
–Beowulf, AD 700-1000

To read the entire section on European Dragons click HERE