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The dragon: A symbol of good in Asia and evil in the West. Why the difference?

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posted on May, 20 2011 @ 01:28 PM
Throughout Asia, dragons (as well as snakes, serpents, and similar beings known as nagas) are revered as wise, benevolent, and often symbolic of high political or religious status.

Meanwhile in the West, the Dragon/serpent is the ultimate symbol of evil. Satan is frequently portrayed as a serpent or dragon, and even in non-religious contexts (like fantasy novels, video game....), dragons are at the very least dangerous, terrifying creatures.

Why this big difference? And is it split so cleanly along a geographic east-west divide?

Let’s consider:


“The dragons of China and Japan are almost exclusively benevolent mythological creatures…Its benevolence signifies greatness, goodness and blessings. Instead of being feared and hated the Chinese dragons are highly respected creatures of good fortune that bring ultimate abundance, prosperity and good fortune…Everything connected with Eastern Dragons is blessed. The Year of the Dragon that takes place ever twelve years is lucky. Present-day Oriental astrologers claim that children born during Dragon Years enjoy health, wealth, and long life. Dragons are so wise that they have been royal advisors…”

Source: Dragons of China

The Chinese dragon was the imperial symbol, and the way it was painted was highly controlled. For example, only the Emperor of China was allowed to use the five-clawed dragon, the highest symbol:

…In contrast to Western mythology, Asian dragons are rarely depicted as malevolent. Although fearsome and powerful, dragons are equally considered just, benevolent, and the bringers of wealth and good fortune. The dragon is also considered a shape shifter who can assume human form and mate with people.

Dragons figure importantly in folk beliefs throughout Asia, and are dressed heavily in Buddhist garb. In India, the birthplace of Buddhism around 500 BC, pre-Buddhist snake or serpentine-like creatures known as the NAGA were incorporated early on into Buddhist mythology…

…In both China and Japan, the character for "dragon" (see orange-colored ideogram at top of page) is used often in temple names, and dragon carvings adorn many temple structures. Most Japanese Zen temples, moreover, have a dragon painted on the ceiling of their assembly halls.

Source: Onmark Productions

Dragon painting from Tenryuji Zen temple, Japan:



“The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.” - Revelation 12:9
“He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.” - Revelation 20:2

“And Jehovah God said unto the woman, What is this thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” –Genesis 3:13

St. George, patron saint of England, Crusaders, and warriors in general (among other things) slaying the dragon, a common motif in Christian art:

My armour is like tenfold shields, my teeth are swords, my claws spears, the shock of my tail a thunderbolt, my wings a hurricane, and my breath death!”
–Smaug the Dragon, The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien

What’s going on here? Any ideas? I have no answers but maybe some of you do.

edit on 20-5-2011 by Partygirl because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 20 2011 @ 01:33 PM
I love dragon myths
Not all of the West regards them as totally evil though.
I grew up with stories of the Welsh mountains beings the backs of sleeping dragons, that would awake and fight for the country if it was ever threatened.

posted on May, 20 2011 @ 01:40 PM
reply to post by Partygirl

This is because of many things actually.

The East, Asia and otherwise, sees animals as something to revere.

The West, America and otherwise, sees animals as something to fear.

This comes from many misconceptions.

One of the biggest problems is interpretation of books like the Bible.

It has to do with the serpent in the Bible and seduction.

Personally, I was raised to respect all animals, the way all society should be raised.

In the Western mind the dragon is symbolic for the evil inside men and women.

In the Eastern mind the dragon is symbolic for a great many things.

Having been raised with animals as the example for conflict de-escalation I respect animals.

Knowing dragons are not real but symbols is a very important thing to comprehend.

posted on May, 20 2011 @ 01:59 PM
In a way I think it is an attempt by the Vatican to demonize eastern culture. This is something they did towards the end of the crusades in China and Japan, when they sent over missionaries. The idea was obviously to convert people away from their traditional eastern beliefs (be it Taoism, Buddhism, etc) to Christianity. These eastern ideologies are as ancient as the cultures that believe them. Westerners have always expressed disgusting amounts of xenophobia against Easterners, so the arrogance of Christian culture would tell people that everything in Asian cultures is wrong and evil. It's no wonder really that Asians generally are mistrustful of white people. Just my perception and opinion of course.

posted on May, 20 2011 @ 02:13 PM
reply to post by Yrsal

That's pretty cool, yes now I remember the Welsh flag has a dragon.
Aren't the Welsh the oldest people in the UK? The original inhabitants, before the others arrived?
I wonder if there is some vital difference in that split...does "ancient-ness" somehow correlate with dragons and serpents, etc. ? Could it have been a universal early form of religion in both east and west that only survived in pockets like Wales and the Gnostics who worshipped the snake (Ophidians?)

reply to post by SpartanKingLeonidas

Interesting, thanks.

So if I understand you correctly, you believe the difference is rooted in some kind of different relationship with animals? If I recall, it is technically a sin to eat meat in Buddhism (even though most do) for reasons of cruelty; meanwhile Judeo-Christianity is full of sacrifice and slaughtering of fatted calves and that sort of stuff. Hmmm.

reply to post by KnightwhosaysNi

Thanks for the input...I never thought of that could be involved. I think it must be something more ancient, though, because the divide seems to go back very far in history, much farther than the crusades and Western imperialism.

You know what would be interesting? To examine the cultures and countries along the border of the east-west divide and see how they perceive this stuff. For example, Ancient Mesopotamia, neither east nor west, has pretty complex stuff about the reptillian annunaki (as most ATSers will know)...its a kind of ambiguious idea...I doN't know how people in other places on the border of east-west like parts of Russia, feel...

posted on May, 20 2011 @ 02:20 PM
Because the West is afraid of Asia.

That's my soundbyte of an explanation.

Though in the present moment it's more relevant than it may appear.

posted on May, 20 2011 @ 02:22 PM
I´m glad someone brought this up

As far as I´ve read, it´s long and complicated story, but I recommend you to read Lawrence Gardner´s books. He´s writing about many aspects of how catholic doctrine shaped our society and belief-system and how (and why) dragon was made evil. It was a long process. And people like David Icke are continuing to create disinfo as it seams.
Here are link to Gardner´s books: Gardner
I personally find his books very fashinating and interesting to read. He´s good researcher and has even been able to studdy archive documents in vatican.

Btw, Mayan god Quetzacoatl was also Serpent and very good. Also in my own culture, Finno-Ugric, snakes were good animals in ancient times, but after christianity came here, people slowly started to see snakes as evil beings.
I´ve always felt, that Dragons were good. It´s like some distant memory, maybe

edit on 20-5-2011 by Amandla because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 20 2011 @ 02:28 PM

Originally posted by Partygirl
reply to post by SpartanKingLeonidas

Interesting, thanks.

So if I understand you correctly, you believe the difference is rooted in some kind of different relationship with animals? If I recall, it is technically a sin to eat meat in Buddhism (even though most do) for reasons of cruelty; meanwhile Judeo-Christianity is full of sacrifice and slaughtering of fatted calves and that sort of stuff. Hmmm.

That is a basic outline of it, of course, but it does make sense.

Look at how society in general treats animals.

Whether fictional or real animals the treatment is often the same.

A great example of a mixture of this is the morality through fiction.

I can think of no other greater example of the symbolic "evil" of "dragons" than Rudyard Kipling.

His story of Rikki Tikki Tavi was a mixture of how the East and West see animals.

Quote from : Wikipedia : Rikki Tikki Tavi

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi is a short story in The Jungle Book (1894) by Rudyard Kipling about the adventures of a valiant young mongoose.

The story is notable for its frightening and serious tone.

It has often been anthologised and has also been published more than once as a short book in its own right.

The story was also adapted into an animated TV special by American animator Chuck Jones in 1975.

That same year the story was adapted as a Russian animated short film.

While yes, the cobra is not a dragon, it is a snake and both are inter-linked throughout society.

I believe Rudyard Kipling wrote it not just about the short story of good and evil.

But about the West verses the East and our mentalities toward animals as well.

While Nag and Nagaina were parents like other animals it was their greed which corrupted them, and their seeking power, a part of the West and morality comes into play here, whereas in the East it is not seen so much as morality, but a balance between Yin and Yang, with good comes evil, if you accept one you must accept the other.

Let us not forget Rudyard Kipling grew up during the occupation by Britain of India.

He was immersed within the "East verses West" mentality closely.

India is one of those countries where East and West clash just as the Middle East.

Too few people realize today that Iraq and Iran is what was once considered Persia.

posted on May, 20 2011 @ 02:37 PM
As a proud Welshman there is nothing evil about our dragon. 'Y Ddraig Goch', 'The Red Dragon' is our National symbol and symbolises victory over the insurgent Saxons of the time. Ancient Welsh folk stories in the Book of the Mabinogion tell the tale of the metaphoric struggle between Vortigern's people (Red) and the Saxons (White).

This struggle has never diminished through the ages and can be most notably experienced during rugby season where the Welsh are only happy with victory over the English.

The legend says that when the lands are threatened, the Red Dragon will rise as protector of the people and has manifested into the national flag, which I would say is the best in the world ( only a slight bias here!)

It's a source of great pride and every Welshman experiences 'Hiraeth', (longing for the homeland) at the sight of it.

Mae Hen wlad fy nhadau
Yn anwyl i mi

posted on May, 20 2011 @ 02:49 PM
They are Gods to those who despise the angels.

Lets just say, the angels were not men, but they made it look like thier creations were created by men, or a man, they really just made it up. The angels are an extradimensional race of lost souls that are using human bodies as thier new host bodies. All secret soceities are really just in awe of thier power, and the more "dark" occult schools generally worship the more organic spirits from Earth.
edit on 20-5-2011 by SystemResistor because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 20 2011 @ 03:03 PM
reply to post by SystemResistor

That kind of explains the whole idea of satan and the fallen angels. But i fought their sacrifice is what made our world possible hence Jesus last sacrifice. I don't believe Jesus was Messiah but that is another story

posted on May, 20 2011 @ 03:48 PM
Perhaps the question should not be 'why are there differences', but why such a creature appear in two cultures so vastly different. Is this evidence itself that creatures such as this did indeed exist as some far point in history?

posted on May, 20 2011 @ 03:49 PM
The Dragon spoke to me and told me to write a book on it, or a bible as you christians may call it.

The Dragon himself is the REAL GOD!

I already started writing it and it makes PERFECT SENSE. I was an atheist until that day...

posted on May, 21 2011 @ 11:05 AM
reply to post by Lovepeace20

From what I read of an interview called the "Lacerta Files" there was actually a reptillian civilisation on Earth, at the time that we were in our early stages of evolution. Long story short, they used us in there experiment, have on numerous occasions "restarted" our civilisations, and "upgraded" us at various stages, and have, at various times, come into conflict with the reptillians. However, we are generally unaware of what is going on as we live in an artificial reality.

posted on May, 27 2011 @ 01:21 PM

Originally posted by Partygirl
Why this big difference? And is it split so cleanly along a geographic east-west divide?

I think that the answer to this one is quite simple. When the 'West' developed settlements and began to store grain, they developed a symbiotic relationship with cats in order to protect their grain from rodents. In the 'East', they developed a similar relationship with snakes to protect their rice stores from rodents.

The split therefore isn't so much East and West as temperate/arrid and tropical. I don't know enough about the ecology of Asia, but it may have been that there were no cats suitable for domestication, cats are generally not well thought of in Asia, so it may just be that they were considered too much of an 'enemy' to even consider having around the place. The same could be said of why the serpent wasn't considered suitable pest control in the 'West', but I should imagine that it most likely comes down to the tenacity of the animals themselves and their proving themselves useful to their potential 'masters'.

posted on May, 27 2011 @ 01:38 PM
You forgot Pete's Dragon:

And Puff:

Evil bastards they are.

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