The Dragon in the Yin & Yang

The dragon and the famous Yin & Yang symbol are two major elements of Chinese culture. Chinese beliefs have shaped these two figures which, for thousands of years and still today, play a very important role in the life of Asian people.

Today we are going to look into the meaning of the dragon within the Yin and Yang philosophy.

What's the role of the dragon? What powers does it have? What does the symbol of Yin and Yang mean? What is the connection between dragons and the Yin & Yang?

If these are questions you're asking yourself, then you've come to the right place!

The Dragon in China

Detail of the Nine Dragon Wall in China - dice of dragons

The dragon has a completely different meaning in China compared to most Western countries.

Indeed, in the Occidental world, the dragon is often seen as a magical and scary creature. It is associated with evil and destruction and is regularly used in stories as one of the villains. With the exception of some cartoons where the dragon is the friend of the main character, like in Shrek for example, it is quite rare to come across helpful and benevolent dragons.

In China, it's the complete opposite! For centuries, the Chinese dragon has been a symbol of success, luck and happiness.

The dragon occupies a special place in Chinese astrology. Moreover, among the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac, represented by animals, it is the one that everyone would like to have. When one is born under the sign of the dragon, one expects to be lucky and highly successful in life.

The Yellow Emperor, Huang Di, used the snake as his emblem. To this emblem he added all the territories he had conquered. When he died, he was immortalized as a dragon that resembled his coat of arms. It is for this reason that in China, the dragon has a body that looks more like a snake than the dragon known in the West.

Magic Powers of Dragons

The dragon is considered to be a very powerful being and is believed to have many powers. He is said to be the master of the elements and in particular of water. He is therefore capable of summoning rain, tornadoes, typhoons... He reigns over the seas and oceans. It is associated with the marine universe and this is seen in many Chinese works of art. As soon as the country experiences a drought, dragon statues are brought out to call out and pray for water.

The dragon lives and roams in the sky thanks to its wings. It is said that dragons cause eclipses by trying to catch the Moon and the Sun. It is known as a benevolent, but often clumsy creature.

Apart from that, the dragon has a positive image and is known to help human beings. In fact, it is the dragon that comes to chase demons from the Earth, with the help of the tiger (which we will see at the end of this article).

Meaning of the Yin & Yang

The Yin Yang Symbol - dice of dragons

The Ying & Yang is one of the most recognizable symbols out there. This sign is round and composed of a black part and a white part. Each part has a dot of the other color. This symbol is part of Chinese culture and philosophy.

  • The white side, the Yang, is there to represent all the positive of our universe. It shows the light and focuses on the positive aspects of life.
  • The black side, Yin, is dark. Black in color, it represents the exact opposite of Yang. It is associated with everything negative and evil on this Earth.

It expresses the fact that everything in this world is made up of two separate parts, but these parts can never be fully dissociated or exist without one another. Good and evil is the main example of this duality. You can also think of positive and negative, light and darkness, Heaven and Earth... These two sides are two forces that oppose and complement each other at the same time. One would not exist without the other. In short, it is harmony and balance of forces.

This union between yin and yang is one of the foundations of traditional Feng Shui.

Origin of the Yin & Yang

It is not possible to date the appearance of this symbol exactly, but we do know that it comes from ancient times. In fact, we know this from recovered writings dating back to the third century BC.

It would have influenced two schools of thought: Confucianism and Taoism.

  • Confucianism draws from the Yang. It is a philosophy that advocates a good relationship with others and a great open-mindedness.
  • Taoism, on the other hand, is attached to the Yin and encourages human beings to connect more with themselves and nature.

Dragon, Tiger and Yin Yang

Dragon Tiger and Yin Yang - dice of dragons

If you've read carefully, you should be able to know which side of the Yin & Yang the dragon is mainly on... Take a moment to think about it... Ready?

Indeed, it's on the Yang side. The dragon is related to good in Chinese beliefs and most paintings place it on the side of the Yang.

It is often depicted in the Ying Yang drawing because it represents quiet strength, protection, goodness but also dominance and movement.

In opposition, the tiger is often placed on the other side. These two legendary creatures and symbols are considered as fighters who have come to save the Earth and human beings from demons. Both have different styles and meanings.

The tiger is seen as a passionate fighter that uses his incredible raw energy to overpower its opponents. The tiger is fast and explosive. It is also unpredictable and gives blows that its opponent does not expect. He has the rage to win and an unfailing determination. Its physical strength is complemented by its mental strength that allows it not to give up the fight.

The dragon, on the other hand, is a much more volatile and dispersed fighter. His fighting strategy is quite different from that of his companion. Of course, he also has great strength. However, he prefers to use his wits and intelligence to anticipate his opponents' blows. One of his strong points is his ability to concentrate. He is wise and patient. He knows how to act effectively and at the right time.

While these two animals are very different, they also complement each other and thus create a harmony of powers. This is why they face each other and symbolize Ying and Yang through many works of art (paintings, sculptures...).

The Yin & Yang in Kung Fu

Kung Fu has an important place in Chinese culture and learning this art is also possible thanks to beliefs and myths.

This martial art teaches various fighting techniques. It also explains to the students the two sides of Yin & Yang thanks to the fight of these two celestial beings. This is the reason there is tiger Kung Fu and dragon Kung Fu.

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