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Dragon King or Long Wang — Deity of Water in Chinese Mythology

The Chinese Dragon, pronounced as 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 Dragon 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 living in mystical Mount Zhong, as well as some less powerful ones that live in the ground or water.

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Azure Dragon

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 the most popular appearance of them is the human body with a dragon head.

Dragon Kings or Long Wang in White Cloud Temple or Baiyun Temple of Beijing.

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.

 

Gradually, with the fusion of Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism, the worshipping of the Dragon King integrated as well.

Golden Dragons (Zou Long) that used as Ritual Implements of Taoism Religion Ceremony in the Tang Dynasty

Golden Dragons (Zou Long) that Were Used as Ritual Implements of Taoism Religion Ceremony in Tang Dynasty (618 — 907) — Shaanxi History Museum (Photo by Dongmaiying)

Dragon Kings of the Four Seas

 

In the year 751, based on the Five Elements Theory, Emperor Xuanzong of Tang awarded the Dragon Kings of the Four Seas (Si Hai Long Wang), which is the most popular version today:

 

Dragon of East Sea

 

Name: Gang De, Xian Ren, Ao Guang.

 

Color: Cyan

 

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.

 

Color: Red

 

Power: In charge of lightning and fire.

 

 

Dragon of West Sea

 

Name: Gang Run, Zheng Heng, Ao Run.

 

Color: Black

 

Power: In charge of wind, coldness and warmth of the climate.

 

Dragon of North Sea

 

Name: Guang Ze, Chong Li, Ao Shun.

 

Color: White

 

Power: In charge of snow, hail, and frost.

Dragon King of the Four Seas in Murals of the Ming Dynasty (1368 — 1644)

Dragon King of the Four Seas on Murals of the Ming Dynasty (1368 — 1644) — Pilu Temple of Shijiazhuang City

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 the year 1110, Emperor Huizong of Song awarded the Five Dragons as kings, and more temples were constructed to enshrine them.

Ruins of Five Dragon Palace (or Wulong Gong), One of the Earliest Temples of the Wudang Mountains

Ruins of Five Dragon Palace (or Wulong Gong) of the Wudang Mountains, Photo by Tianshu Shijue.

Besides the Dragon Kings of Four Seas and Five Directions, there are other less powerful ones that guard smaller waterbodies, such as lakes, rivers, springs, wells, and even ponds.

 

Therefore, it's not possible to tell exactly how many Dragon Kings are there.

 

However, they do share the same responsibilities: guarding the local people and being in charge of local weather.

Dragon King Daughter or Dragon Girl

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, in which they live with their families and subjects.

Dragon King Palace or Long Gong

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

Dragon King Temple (Long Wang Ge) in Hankou, Picture from Sudanqing.

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