From the earliest beginnings of humankind to modern times, mythical dragon drawings have been part of the culture and legends of countries around the world.
The Earliest Mythical Drawings of Dragon
Some of the earliest drawings of dragons appear on earthenware and jade dating from the Neolithic period of the Stone Age. Dragons depicted during this time period, circa 9000-8000 B.C., are drawn with a human face and a snakelike body with legs.
Archeologists believe these early mythological dragons developed from the image of the snake. In these primitive times, snakes were revered as Gods and seen as the creators and protectors of humans: NuWa, the Chinese creator Goddess and FuXi, the inventor of fishing, trapping and writing.
Mythical Dragons of Europe and Asia
As centuries passed, dragons evolved into two distinct types of mythical creatures: the European dragon and the Asian dragon.
Drawings of the mythical dragons of Europe generally show fire breathing creatures with bat-like wings, lizard legs and a serpentine body. Although depicted slightly different by each European culture, they commonly represent dragons as scaled, scary, evil creatures. In European cultures, the dragon is almost always the natural enemy of man and it possesses evil supernatural powers.
Variations of the European, or Western, dragons include:
- Dragons with two pairs of lizard like legs is the most common
- A dragon with one pair of legs (no front legs) is called a wyvern
- No legs
- Dorsal spines
- Three, four or five toes
- Multiple heads and necks
Not all European dragons breathed fire, some spit out poison or ice. Visit Science Fiction and Fantasy Art to view a beautiful rendition of a frost dragon spitting ice by Marc Hermann.
Unlike the evil dragons of Europe, the drawings of mythical dragons of Asia, known as Eastern or Oriental dragons, depict spiritual benevolent creatures full of wisdom. Many of the drawings of Eastern dragons clearly represent it as a spiritual sacred symbol of power from the heavens associated with:
- Supernatural powers
- Cycles of the seasons
- Auspicious chi
- Good fortune
- The yang, or masculine power, of the yin yang
Easy to distinguish from their European counterparts, most mythological Asian dragons are wingless with four legs, a beard and a long snakelike body full of scales. Even without wings these dragons had the ability to fly. Oriental dragons could shape shift into any form including human and change to any size ranging from as tiny as a silkworm to as big as the universe.
Although the number of toes on an Oriental dragon varies from three to five, only a Celestial dragon has five toes. The four toed dragons are common Chinese dragons and Korean dragons. Three-toed dragons are Japanese dragons.
The First Chinese Dragon
Ancient legend tells of the first dragon to appear in Chinese mythology to the emperor Fu Shi. A monster named Kung Kung made a hole in the sky and the dragon filled the hole. From that day forward the dragon's patterns of sleeping, waking and breathing determined the seasons, weather, daytime and nighttime.
The Nine Dragon Types of Chinese Mythology
Dragon drawings show the nine classical types of Chinese dragons.
- The Winged Dragon - Yinglong
- The Spiritual Dragon - Shenlong
- The Dragon King - Four separate dragons each ruling one of the four seas (east, west, south and north)
- Celestial Dragon - Tianlong
- Dragon of the Hidden Treasures - Fucanglong
- Underground Dragon - Dilong
- The Coiling Dragon - Panlong
- The Yellow Dragon - Huanglong
- The Homeless Dragon - Li
Mythical Dragon Drawings
Visit the following links for wonderful examples of mythical dragons.
- View a slideshow of dragon artwork
- View a slideshow of Japanese dragon art
- Ying yang dragons information and pictures
- Tiger and dragon ying yang information and pictures
Mythical dragon drawings illustrate the fierceness of European dragons and the auspicious power of the Eastern dragon.