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Dragon and Phoenix Symbol Meaning

Updated on March 26, 2011

Dragon and Phoenix

Dragon and Phoenix
Dragon and Phoenix

Phoenix Bird Mythology

The phoenix is a mythical bird which represents beauty, good luck and southern direction in China. The bird is also considered as a symbol of the Empress and it is the highest-ranked bird in China. Being called as the “King of Birds” the phoenix embodied the five virtues of righteousness, benevolence, wisdom, propriety and sincerity. According to legend, phoenix bird perched only in the finest firmiana tree, drinking and eating nothing but bamboo seeds and sweet spring water. The bird is also said to have the head of the golden pheasant, the body of the mandarin duck, the beak of the parrot, the feathers of the peacock, the wings of the roc and the legs of the crane. You can see the early design of this bird on the silk painting discovered near Changsa in Hunan province in a tomb of the Warring States period (475 – 221 BC).

Dragon Legends and Myths

The dragon is a legendary reptilian monster. It was the national emblem of the Chinese Empire. To the Chinese people, the dragon is considered as a symbol of power, good fortune and the eastern direction. This huge snake-like monster represents the Emperor. The China’s national flag under the Qing dynasty was emblazoned with a big dragon. Some of the recently unearthed bronze vessels (existed more than 3,000 years ago) of the Yin dynasty are decorated with sketchs of dragons of a crude form. The Chinese earliest legends desribed the dragon as a miraculous beast with snake-body, long beards and fish scales.

Dragon and Phoenix in Chinese Culture

The names in the Chinese language for many things connected with the empress or the emperor were preceded by the epithet “phoenix” or “dragon”; thus, “dragon robe” for the emperor’s ceremonial dress, “dragon bed” for him to sleep, “dragon seat” for the throne, and “phoenix canopies”, “phoenix carriage” and so on for the imperial processions. Because of this, the combination of dragon and phoenix (sometimes with the tiger) is associated to that of a Yin and Yang symbol which symbolizing the union of opposites. The phoenix and the dragon are the principal motifs for decorative designs on the clothing, buildings and articles of daily use in the imperial palace.

Phoenix and dragon, along with the qilin unicorn and tortoise is regarded as the “Four Supernatural Spirits”. Therefore it is believed when someone see phoenix and dragon then he or she will be extremely lucky. Many married couple also keep an image of the dragon and phoenix in their home. The presence of the phoenix and dragon traditionally symbolizes a fruitful marriage blessed with prosperity and success, as well as many male offspring.

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    • profile image

      E. Copeland 

      5 years ago

      Curious of the two together. Thankyou, very helpful.

    • PaperNotes profile image

      PaperNotes 

      7 years ago

      This is very interesting. I must look for home decors with the dragon and phoenix images. Thanks.

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