Serpents of the East - Greg Litton

Though dragons can be found in legends from both European and Asian legends and myths, the differences between them and the importance they held in Medieval society were very different.  In this gallery, I will explore some of the art and references from Asian culture and how dragon’s played a role as wise creatures not always out to burn your house down.

The dragons depicted in Asian culture were spread out of China through Buddhism. Here, one of the highest followers, Rahula, is depicted with a Dragon in the corner, a strong suggestion of his power.
Dragons were Serpents tied to the wind and water universally throughout Asia. As shown here, the dragon flows from sky to water fluidly. This carried larger meaning in lands that bordered the oceans
This depiction of the dragon and tiger was tied to an understanding of Feng Shui. In the yinyang symbol, the dragon depicted yin, where the tiger represented yang, a common theme in a lot of art.
Though many depictions of dragons represented them as wise, there were many that would show two fighting. Such as in this painting, occasionally it would be used to describe two great powers at war.
A chest depicting scenes from Tale of Genji and The Tale of the Soga Brothers, the scene is balanced by the lock in the middle, carrying on that Feng Shui balance.
Not only does the dragon represent water and power, it is also a symbol of success and wealth. Robes such as these would be worn by powerful merchants or even the nobility and Emperor.
The Descending and Ascending dragons in these scrolls seem to represent the rise and fall of two powers. As one descends, it roars angrily up at the one rising, as if the other ascends at its misfortune.
Tied to the last image.
This vase has a floral pattern around its base and a dragon depiction around the neck. Possibly meant to channel the spirit of the dragon to help the water nourish the plants kept in the vase, this is a piece created in China.
A vase depicting a dragon with an almost uncertain look on his face, this was created during the Yuan dynasty, when Kublai Khan took over as emperor of China. The look seems to depict how uncertain these times were.
This vase, while still depicting a dragon, shows how different dragons were depicted in different Asian regions. This depiction originates from Korea, where most dragons were believed to live in the rivers and lakes.
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