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Dragon and Tiger Symbolism and Meaning

Updated on January 29, 2011

Tiger and Dragon in Chinese Culture

The earliest image of tiger discovered in Henan province, central China in 1987 in an ancient tomb unearthed. The earliest image of a dragon ever found made of shells was found on the right side and a tiger, also made of shells was found lying on the left side of a body buried there. These images are said to be about 6000 years old. Both the dragon and tiger were totems in ancient times.

With the development of agriculture, the Chinese began to rely more on the climate and were also concerned with its change. Since they believe the dragon is in charge of the weather, therefore it soon replaced the tiger. The dragon came to hold the dominant position in Chinese culture and the tiger became his subordinates and hold the title as 'The king of mountains'.

Dragon and Tiger

Dragon and Tiger
Dragon and Tiger

Dragon and Tiger in Feng Shui

In the study of Feng Shui, dragon is regarded as an auspicious animal, it connotes prosperity and activity while the tiger is considered as a vicious and harmful animal that is being feared and venerated. The Chinese also believe if you see a white tiger when gambling it is considered unlucky. According to some legend, a certain tiger changed its coat of fur after 500 years and turned white. That is why they call the West side of a house or building the ‘white tiger’. Both the East (dragon) and West (tiger) are often used by feng shui experts to relate to enhancement of Qi or feng shui cures. In feng shui, the green dragon side of your house represents the power of the male and the white tiger side represents the power of the female. If the tiger side is higher than the dragon, then the wife has more influence and power over the family.

Dragon and Tiger in Martial Arts

Dragons seems have always been an eternal rival to the tiger, thus various artworks depict a tiger and dragon fighting an epic battle. In Chinese martial arts, the ‘Tiger Style’ is based on memorization of techniques and brute strength while the “Dragon Style” is used to describe styles or techniques of fighting based more on understanding movement. Tiger fights in a straightforward attack bulldozing its opponent while the dragon fights using circular flexible attacks. These two active animals have come be to be known as oppositional symbols – one reflecting a ‘soft’ style, a defensive and more fluid ‘circular attack’ that is represented by the dragon. The other reflecting a ‘hard’ style of martial arts (attacking and unrelenting) that is symbolized by the tiger. Because of this people like to consider these two magnificent creatures as a symbol of yin and yang (the balance of opposing forces).

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      anon 3 years ago

      I have a question. Yin and yang can be recognized by the physical manifestations of certain animals. Yang is always a dragon, no matter what. However, Yin is represented as a tiger OR a Phoenix. Why is this? It is quite confusing in the long run.

    • profile image

      farshad 5 years ago

      I saw a statue of a tiger and dragon battle

      Dragon is holding a ball

      and Tiger has been discontinued Dragon's Claw!!!

      The ball remains in dragon claws cut!!

      What is the meaning of this statue?

      If you wish,I send you some pictures of it

      arsh.computer.co@gmail.com

    • profile image

      Danny 5 years ago

      Im born in the year of the Tiger while my brother was born in Dragon, i can kinda see a pattern of what they described in this article.

    • profile image

      Kathy Go 5 years ago

      I BORN ON YEAR OF THE SNAKE AND MY KIDS BORN YEAR OF THE DRAGON AND TIGERAND I WANT TO PUT TATOO ON MY BACK THE TIGER AND DRAGON, I WORKED VERY FAR I WANT TO PUT THAT TATOO TO REMEMBER THEM EVERYWHERE I GO..

      IS IT LUCKY TO HAVE THEM MY TATOO?

    • profile image

      ed 5 years ago

      I recall reading a story many years ago about a carver that always used the form of a Dragon in his work. It is said that the walking sticks he sculpted were complimentary and respectful to Dragons. Somehow, this fact became known to a local Dragon King who became quite taken but the way in which his people were portrayed. The Dragon King sought out the carver with the intention of meeting him and thanking him. Without expectation the Dragon appeared to the carver when alone. To the surprise of the Dragon King, the carver fainted from fright and was out cold.

    • profile image

      bisbeejim 6 years ago

      Once upon a time Dragon and Tiger could never agree on anything. Dragon hardly ever ate but loved to save all the food. Tiger loved a full belly and only became dangerous when he was starving. Tiger often fought with Dragon over the food. All the animals suffered when Dragon and Tiger fought. As it turned out, only the snake had the wisdom to make the two get along. So when expenses (Tiger) exceeds income (Dragon) use the snake (your wisdom) to make decisions.

    • Susan Wong profile image
      Author

      Susan Wong 7 years ago

      Mrs J.B, i do love animals but i don't have any pet yet, thinking of having one and hopefully can make some articles about it.

      Eric, no im not but my grandparents are and still living there.

    • Eric Zhou profile image

      Eric Zhou 7 years ago from GZ,China

      Good hub.Are you from China?

    • Mrs. J. B. profile image

      Mrs. J. B. 7 years ago from Southern California

      Wow this article is very interesting. Do you have any animals that you can elaborate on? Thanks

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