In Western culture the dragon is usually associated with evil but in the East that's not the case; the Chinese dragon is a symbol of prosperity, wisdom and power. Why are there such differences in perception?
In the West, dragons were symbolic of evil and in their legends they were portrayed as cruel creatures that often killed fair maidens and young children. The dragons of the West essentially existed to be the villain for the knight in shining armor; every knight needs a dragon to slay in order to be a hero.
Dragons also symbolized the devil to a certain extent with their lizard-like appearances and their striking, leathery looking wings. A rare exception to this demonic association was the Order of the Dragon which actually served to defend the Cross against enemies and promote the Christian church. This mysterious knighthood was also an inspiration for Bram Stroker's Dracula.
In the East, dragons are thought of as gentle and kind but extremely wise. They lack wings but still have the ability to fly and they are benevolent rather than malevolent towards humanity.
Their bodies are long and snake-like and they are brightly colored with long whiskers and vibrant manes. The Chinese dragon is also one of the Chinese Zodiac signs and of all the Chinese Zodiac signs the dragon is the most auspicious.
Both the dragons of Chinese astrology and Western dragons are cunning and resourceful as well as powerful and as Chinese astrology gained popularity in the West, the mindset about dragons shifted to a more positive view.
Martial arts master Bruce Lee also launched a major turning point in the Western mindset regarding dragons with his movie Enter the Dragon. Instead of viewing the dragon as a villain, the dragon was an impressive hero capable of great bravery and resourcefulness.
Western Dragon vs. Eastern Dragon
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