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Dragons are fascinating emblems of the Chinese people. The association is very old, and increasingly worth a lot of money to the cities where dragon remains are uncovered by archaeologists.

Three sacrificial victims lay sprawled at the tomb’s lower end. Their heads had been smashed in with blunt objects so they could join their master in the next world. The big man himself was lying north to south. He was flanked on each side by a two-meter animal design fashioned from clamshells. To his east was a tiger; a beast revered by primitives for its fierceness and power. To his west was a dragon.1

The Yangshao-era grave at Puyang, nearly 6500 years old, illustrates the history of Chinese astronomy, especially the four mega-constellations of Dragon, Bird, Tiger, and Turtle. Puyang hints at the age of feng shui as well. The grave is a contemporary of the Yangshao village of Banpo, where houses were aligned to the asterism Yingshi (Ding) when it appeared overhead.

Officials of the Forbidden City Museum call the tall chieftain’s grave at Puyang the site of the First Dragon of China.

The Yangshao dragon will soon be joined by a China Dragon Garden:

The cultural park will be studded with dragon structures — bridges, gates, pavilions, pillars and so on — and will include just about every imaginable dragon-themed attraction.2

You could dress in dragon suits and be married in a dragon temple. You could be showered with dragon-themed gifts. Or you could come here to learn more about dragons from the Dragon Research Institute (construction begins in late 2007). As the developer says, learn from the Americans: mice are “disgusting,” but Americans built a multibillion-dollar industry from Mickey Mouse.

Perhaps you’d rather not suffer the death of a thousand trinket-dragons. If you would prefer one big dragon, travel about 150 km south of Puyang for the beginnings of a 10-story-tall cement dragon on the side of Mt Shizu, one of the legendary birthplaces of Huangdi.3 The unfinished business illustrates the rapid changes in China. Today Mt Shizu is an environmental park.

People question whether it is appropriate to construct an immense cement dragon in an ecologically sensitive area. The unfinished dragon-homage to Huangdi awaits an uncertain future. According to one local, Huangdi “doesn’t need this tacky crap.”

Will the real First Dragon please fly forward?

Right now it appears that the winner is a Xinglongwa culture site at Chahai (5712-5530 BCE), near the city of Fuxin, Liaoning province (Manchuria). In 1994, archaeologists unearthed a dragon made of cobblestones that is 19.7 meters long.4,5,6 The early houses were arranged in a way that suggests some early aspects of feng shui were involved. They were set in straight rows,7 with the largest house of each row typically located in the middle. Sometimes the bigger house was in the middle of the village.

References

  1. “Battle for the dragon’s lair.” The Standard. Saturday, May 26, 2007. “Big man” is no exaggeration: the chieftain was six feet tall. Otherwise, this lurid account has a few problems with its facts: the dragon is on the east side of the body. In the north, next to the body’s feet, is an assemblage of animal bones and items meant to resemble the Dipper or Ladle (Beidou). The companions in eternity are sometimes claimed to be children or females.
  2. Ibid.
  3. “One of” because Huangdi’s title of Youxiong (Keeper of Bears) has been associated with Hongshan cultures, and lately those in Liaoning with pig-dragon or bear-dragon jades. The late archaeologist Su Bingqi once said, “In terms of both time and location, only the Hongshan culture can be matched up with the legend of Huangdi.” According to Sima Qian, Huangdi was an animal trainer: black bears, grizzly bears, foxes, panthers, lynxes, and tigers.
  4. Paola Demattè. The Chinese Jade Age: Between antiquarianism and archaeology. J. of Social Archaeology. 2006; 6: 202-226.
  5. Randy Anderson. Applying Anticipated Mobility to Sedentism Analysis of Pre-Hongshan Cultures in North-East China. Eras. 2004; Edition 6.
  6. Guang Wen, Zhichun Jing. Chinese neolithic jade: A preliminary geoarchaeological study. Geoarchaeology. 2006; 7:3, 251-275.
  7. Not unusual, as the penchant for north-aligned tombs is common in settlements as old as Majiabang.

‘,’Dragons are fascinating emblems of the Chinese people. The association is very old, and increasingly worth a lot of money to the cities where dragon remains are uncovered by archaeologists.

Three sacrificial victims lay sprawled at the tomb’s lower end. Their heads had been smashed in with blunt objects so they could join their master in the next world. The big man himself was lying north to south. He was flanked on each side by a two-meter animal design fashioned from clamshells. To his east was a tiger; a beast revered by primitives for its fierceness and power. To his west was a dragon.1

The Yangshao-era grave at Puyang, nearly 6500 years old, illustrates the history of Chinese astronomy, especially the four mega-constellations of Dragon, Bird, Tiger, and Turtle. Puyang hints at the age of feng shui as well. The grave is a contemporary of the Yangshao village of Banpo, where houses were aligned to the asterism Yingshi (Ding) when it appeared overhead.Officials of the Forbidden City Museum call the chieftain’s grave at Puyang the site of the First Dragon of China.The Yangshao dragon will soon be joined by a China Dragon Garden:

The cultural park will be studded with dragon structures — bridges, gates, pavilions, pillars and so on — and will include just about every imaginable dragon-themed attraction.2

You could dress in dragon suits and be married in a dragon temple. You could be showered with dragon-themed gifts. Or you could come here to learn more about dragons from the Dragon Research Institute (construction begins in late 2007). As the developer says, learn from the Americans: mice are “disgusting,” but Americans built a multibillion-dollar industry from Mickey Mouse.Perhaps you’d rather not suffer the death of a thousand trinket-dragons. If you would prefer one big dragon, travel about 150 km south of Puyang for the beginnings of a 10-story-tall cement dragon on the side of Mt Shizu, one of the legendary birthplaces of Huangdi.3 The unfinished business illustrates the rapid changes in China. Today Mt Shizu is an environmental park. People question whether it is appropriate to construct an immense cement dragon in an ecologically sensitive area. The unfinished dragon-homage to Huangdi awaits an uncertain future.According to one local, Huangdi “doesn’t need this tacky crap.”

Will the real First Dragon please fly forward?

Right now it appears that the winner is a Xinglongwa culture site at Chahai (5712-5530 BCE), near the city of Fuxin, Liaoning province (Manchuria). In 1994, archaeologists unearthed a dragon made of cobblestones that is 19.7 meters long.4,5,6 The early houses were arranged in a way that suggests some early aspects of feng shui were involved. They were set in straight rows,7 with the largest house of each row typically located in the middle. Sometimes the bigger house was in the middle of the village.

References

  1. “Battle for the dragon’s lair.” The Standard. Saturday, May 26, 2007. “Big man” is no exaggeration: the chieftain was six feet tall. Otherwise, this lurid account has a few problems with its facts: the dragon is on the east side of the body. In the north, next to the body’s feet, is an assemblage of animal bones and items meant to resemble the Dipper or Ladle (Beidou). The companions in eternity are sometimes claimed to be children or females.
  2. Ibid.
  3. “One of” because Huangdi’s title of Youxiong (Keeper of Bears) has been associated with Hongshan cultures, and lately those in Liaoning with pig-dragon or bear-dragon jades. The late archaeologist Su Bingqi once said, “In terms of both time and location, only the Hongshan culture can be matched up with the legend of Huangdi.” According to Sima Qian, Huangdi was an animal trainer: black bears, grizzly bears, foxes, panthers, lynxes, and tigers.
  4. Paola Demattè. The Chinese Jade Age: Between antiquarianism and archaeology. J. of Social Archaeology. 2006; 6: 202-226.
  5. Randy Anderson. Applying Anticipated Mobility to Sedentism Analysis of Pre-Hongshan Cultures in North-East China. Eras. 2004; Edition 6.
  6. Guang Wen, Zhichun Jing. Chinese neolithic jade: A preliminary geoarchaeological study. Geoarchaeology. 2006; 7:3, 251-275.
  7. Not unusual, as the penchant for north-aligned tombs is common in settlements as old as Majiabang.
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