|"Lifesized" dragon state in a Chinese park, from Wikipedia.|
Characteristics of Chinese Dragons and Their Developmental StagesChinese art and cultural beliefs have been dominated by dragons for thousands of years. A mix of animal features are seen in Chinese dragons, and thanks to the scholarship of Wang Fu some time between 206 B.C. and A.D. 220 during the Han Dynasty, the features and complex stages of dragon growth and maturity were described.
From Hatchling to Maturity – The Fantastic Stages of Chinese Dragon DevelopmentThe profound influence the dragon has had on Chinese culture can be seen in the complexity and detail with which their mythical character has been envisioned. Chinese dragons go through a lengthy series of metamorphic stages before becoming the rare wonder of a winged Chinese dragon.
To begin, a Chinese dragon does not even hatch from its gem-like egg (1) until 1,000 years after it has been laid. The hatchling dragon looks like a water snake (2) and 500 years will pass before it develops the head of a carp. (3) Then over another 1,000 years the carp scales will cover its body and four short limbs will grow. During this time the tail will grow long, the face will become elongated, a beard will develop, and sharp claws will emerge from the feet.(4)
Antlers will grow over the next 500 years, and strangely the Chinese dragon hears through its antlers. (this legend arose because some reports specify "ears" and others say "Horns" for evidently the same protrusions on the head) Despite the presence of ears, it has been deaf until the growth of antlers.(5) Not until the passing of another 1,000 years will the dragon grow wings and achieve the ultimate state of a mature and glorious Chinese dragon. (6)
[Source: "Dragons: A Natural History." 1995. Dr. Karl Shuker.
Despite the description, Chinese dragons are almost universally wingless. Stage 6 does not ordinarily apply.
The story of eggs lying dormant for a thousand years is part of a separate tradition which has nothing to do with dragons. That the eggs are "Jewel-like" or "Pearl-like" is due to a confusion of the dragon's egg with the disc or "Pearl" that is often shown near the dragon's head in some representations. Peter Costello made the suggestion (unusual for him) that perhaps Plesiosaurs were ovoviviparous but occasionally dropped the bad eggs, similar in size and shape to an ostrich's eggs, which then in turn gave rise to the legend of dragon's eggs (In Search of Lake Monsters) This may be true but I think there is an actual reptile involved at the base of dragon stories and that is where the legend came from (Oddly enough, the lizard has also been suggested to be ovoviviparous, which is to say, laying eggs but reetaining them in the body until they hatch, and then giving birth to fully-developed young)
However stage 3 is the part which I'd like to point out first. It seems obvious to me that this is nothing more nor less than a depiction of the Chinese giant salamander. the earlier stages 1) and 2) therefore only represent its tadpole stages (Lasting a few months instead of many years)
Saturday, September 05, 2009
DALE DRINNON: The Buru
And once again, there is a sightings mockup of the types on file in this group, which has a photo of a Komodo dragon representing the Buru: that photo has the lizard in mud up to its elbows and knees, if an explanation for the one report of "Flanges not legs" still needs to be accounted for. That file is named 'Scale Mockup for Unknown Monitor Lizards.'
Not only are there adequate local fossils for Komodo-dragon-sized monitor lizards in India, their ancestors were in the Himalayan region at the same time as the highlands were building. Populations of them could conceivably have stayed put and adapted to the highland conditions. Viviparous lizards in Northern Scandinavia live under a similar climate and hibernate a long time, and the Burus could have become viviparous in parallel to them. I imagine the creatures ordinarily derive much of their diet from grubbing up crustaceans and molluscs out of the muddy bottoms, but that the will take fishes when possible and the old Chinese records speak of such creatures greedily eating birds and eggs when they can be had. They may only swallow solid food under water. I don't think that they are ambush predators like crocs, although that has been alleged, but that they would gladly eat carrion of drowned corpses. In other words, I doubt if they would drag a yak into the water but if there was the body of a drowned yak in the water, surely then they would be seen eating it.
Chinese Buru Dragon, from
EXTRACTS FROM THE "PAN TSAOU KANG MU."
Shi Chan, quoting from the Kwan Cheu Ki, says: “The Iguanodon (?) is more than twelve feet long; it resembles a snake, it has four feet, and is broad like a shield. It has a small head and a slender neck, the latter being covered with numerous protuberances. The front of its breast is of a red colour, its back is variegated with green, and its sides as if embroidered. Its tail is composed of fleshy rings; the larger ones are several. Its eggs are also large. It can induce fish to fly, but if a turtle is present they will not do so.
“The Emperor Chao, of the Han, when fishing in the river Wéi, caught a white Iguanodon. It resembled a snake, but was without scales. Its head was composed of soft flesh, and tusks issued from the mouth. The Emperor ordered his ministers to get it preserved. its flesh is delicious; bones green, flesh red.”
From the above it may be seen the Iguanodon is edible.
Which appears to show a creature at least comparable to a Komodo dragon in size, although probably the tail would be longer in life. This is no doubt an early representation of the hornless Kiao-Lung
By the Zhou (Chou) dynasty, which follows the Chang, the larger-end of "Developed Dragons" are depicted a little more clearly. Here the lower extended dragon is another Kiao-Lung and it corresponds to some of the longbodied jade "dragon-pigs" of the Hongshan period. I would suggest that these be relabelled as "Water-Tigers" instead, and some of them could indeed be mant to represent giant otters (Megalenhydris?) But in this case the larger and more elongated dragon at the top has a definite long snaky neck and four flippers indicated on the sides of the
body at approximately the correct places where Plesiosaurs would have flippers. The more convoluted jade dragon shown below it starts to have the traditional problem with the traditional dragon, depicting a long and winding body and yet getting the perspective of the different limbs right. The body shape is still pretty well Plesiosaurian with the body being the more or less horizontal section in the middle with limbs on both ends, and the shorter tail shown as a fishtail. note that the four limbs are once again shown as winglike flippers. The head once again has thatcurlicue behind the eye to indicate a Euryapsid skull.
Please also see the earlier blog on Taotie masks as representing Euryapsid Chinese Dragons:
Here are another couple of Zhou white jade dragons indicating somehat more clearly the breakdown of the body length into head and neck, body and tail, and the four flipperlike limbs at the front and rear end of the body section. I also assume that the heads are once again indicating the Euryapsid condition:
|white jade dragons, tomb marquis of zeng, Zhou (Chou)dynasty|
|Odd late "Serpopard" as Astrological figure, |
presumably imported from Babylon, Han Dynasty
(approx. equal to the Classical age Mediterranean)
Best Wishes, Dale D.