Dragon King or Long Wang — Deity of Water in Chinese Mythology
The Chinese Dragon, pronounced Loong, is a significant cultural icon that symbolizes strength, bravery, invincibility, virtue, unity, intelligence, triumph, integrity, and auspiciousness.
They are powerful and mysterious and have been recorded since Neolithic times.
The world of Chinese Dragons is quite extensive: from Ying Long Dragon that guards in central heaven and assisted ancient kings in battles, Azure Long Dragon that represents the east in ancient Chinese Astrology, to Zhu Long Dragon that lives on mystical Mount Zhong, as well as some less powerful ones that live in the ground or water.
Azure Dragon or Qinglong, Drawn by She Xi.
What is Dragon King or Long Wang?
Dragon King or Long Wang is a group of deities in the world of dragons who live in the water and are in charge of local rain and snow and all activities and creatures of the specific water areas.
Their looks varied throughout history, and their most famous appearance is the human body with a dragon head.
Dragon Kings or Long Wang in White Cloud Temple or Baiyun Temple of Beijing.
Types, Responsibilities, and Numbers of Dragon King
As an outcome of dragon and water worship, it is believed that most water regions, including seas, rivers, lakes, and wells, have a Dragon King guarding in.
During ancient times, in Taoism Religion, Buddhism, and Folklore, appearances, numbers, and types of Dragon Kings differed as well.
Dragon Kings of the Four Seas
Dragon of East Sea
Name: Gang De, Xian Ren, Ao Guang.
Power: Lead of all Dragon Kings, in charge of rain, thunder, tide, tsunami, flood, etc.
Dragon of South Sea
Name: Guang Li, Zhao Ming, Ao Qin.
Power: In charge of lightning and fire.
Dragon of West Sea
Name: Gang Run, Zheng Heng, Ao Run.
Power: In charge of the climate's wind, coldness, and warmth.
Dragon of North Sea
Name: Guang Ze, Chong Li, Ao Shun.
Power: In charge of snow, hail, and frost.
Dragon Kings of the Five Directions
Another popular version is the Five Dragons that originated no later than the Han Dynasty (202 BC — 220 AD):
Yellow Dragon in the central
Azure Dragon in the east
Red Dragon in the south
White Dragon in the west
Black Dragon in the north.
In 1110, Emperor Huizong of Song awarded the Five Dragons as kings, and more temples were constructed to enshrine them.
Besides the Dragon Kings of Four Seas and Five Directions, other less powerful ones guard smaller waterbodies, such as lakes, rivers, springs, wells, and ponds.
Therefore, it's impossible to tell precisely how many Dragon Kings there are.
However, they share the same responsibilities: guarding the local people and being in charge of local weather.
Dragon King Daughter or Dragon Girl, Drawn by Zhang Wang.
Dragon King Palace
Dragon King Palace or Long Gong refers to places where Dragon Kings live, usually underwater and invisible to humans.
In folklore and legends, some powerful Dragon Kings have families and kids and have other aquatic creatures under their command.
Like Emperors in the land, those Dragon Kings also have fancy mansions to build their kingdoms, where they live with their families and subjects.
Dragon King Palace or Long Gong, Drawn by Dai Honghai.
Dragon King Temple
Dragon King Temple or Long Wang Miao refers to places that enshrined Dragon Kings, constructed by local people, for them to pray for good weather and harvest.
In ancient times, people would hold rituals at the Dragon King Temple on important festivals or during severe drought or flood times.
Dragon King Temple (Long Wang Ge) in Hankou, Picture from Sudanqing.
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