Recently, I suddenly thought about what is the difference between the images of Western Dragons and Chinese Dragons?
The Western Dragons are usually portrayed as evil, greedy, and mostly bad characters. In fairy tales, only the bravest and most powerful warrior can defeat the dragon, rescue the princess, save the village, and become a hero.
The Chinese Dragons are quite the opposite. The Chinese dragon is usually symbolized wealth, good fortune, power, and a symbol of imperial power in the Chinese dynasty.
So why is there such a contradictory difference? Of course, this is because of the difference in culture. But we should know that dragon is just a tool used to shape the culture. So, what kind of culture people want to create through the image of the dragon is the reason for these differences.
Both Western and Chinese Dragons symbolized power. That is very clear and simple.
In the west, the dragon’s power is terrifying. And the Western Dragons show what happens when great power meets total selfishness. If you gain unlimited power, would you destroy the village, kidnap the princess, and take all the gold for yourself? Even the village, the girl, and the gold are totally useless for dragons. So, the culture makes dragons evil and conquerable, but only the strongest and bravest can defeat them.
On the other side, Chinese Dragons’ power is the good side of power for order and law. Without the greatest power, how can any leader rule the kingdom and keep it from falling? With a strong power, the order and law should be strong, and the nation will be strong too, so after that, good fortune and wealth will follow. Who doesn’t like good fortune and wealth?
That is the difference. Western culture thinks power is terrible and needs to be controlled, but Chinese culture thinks power is good for the leader to rule and bring good stuff for themselves. Just from the symbolic meaning of the dragon, I can see the enormous difference between Chinese and Western cultures.