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The Four Dragons Of China

I was inspired to share this story after visiting #chirkcastle to see their #folkloreandfurnishings exhibition. There turned out to be a lot more tales than the #nationaltrust shared which I talk about elsewhere but, for now, here is the tale of the #fourdragons.

Once upon a time, there were no rivers and lakes on earth, but only the Eastern Sea, in which lived four dragons: the Long Dragon, the Yellow Dragon, the Black Dragon and the Pearl Dragon. They spent most of their time swimming and flying. They soared and dived, playing at hide-and-seek in the clouds and amongst the waves.

"Come over here!" The Pearl Dragon cried out suddenly one day.

The other three looked down upon the earth where the Pearl Dragon pointed.

There they saw many people giving offerings to the Jade Emperor to send rain. They were putting out fruits and cakes, and burning incense sticks, making their prayers. A white-haired woman, kneeling on the ground with a thin boy on her back, murmured,

"Please send rain quickly, God of Heaven, to give our children rice to eat."

The crops withered, the grass turned yellow and fields cracked under the scorching sun. All was dying for lack of rain.

"How poor the people are!" said the Yellow Dragon. "And they will die if it doesn't rain soon."

The Long Dragon said, "Let us go and beg the Jade Emperor for rain."

So saying, he leapt into the clouds. The others followed closely and flew towards the Heavenly Palace. Being in charge of all the affairs in heaven on earth and in the sea, the Jade Emperor was very powerful. He was not pleased to see the dragons rushing in.

"Why do you come here?"

The Long Dragon stepped forward and said, "The crops on earth are withering and dying, Your Majesty. I beg you to send rain down quickly!"

A carved jade dragon. Han dynasty, 2nd-1st century BCE. From the British Museum, London
A carved jade dragon. Han dynasty, 2nd-1st century BCE. British Museum, London

The Jade Emperor however, was distracted and he barely paid any attention to their pleas and ten days passed, and not a drop of rain came. The people suffered greatly, some eating bark, others eating grass roots. Many were forced to eat white clay when they ran out of bark and grass roots. Seeing all this, the four dragons felt very sorry, for they knew the Jade Emperor only cared about pleasure, and never took the people to heart. They could only rely on themselves to relieve the people of their miseries. But how to do it? Seeing the vast sea, the Long Dragon said that he had an idea.

Taking great gulps of water into their mouths, they sprayed it into the sky forming great rain clouds. The great clouds carried much needed rain to the starving people.

"It's raining! It's raining! The crops will be saved!" the people cried and leaped with joy.

On the ground the wheat stalks raised their heads and the sorghum stalks straightened up.

The dragons however had not asked the God of the Sea. When he discovered what the dragons had done he went straight to the Jade Emperor. The Jade emperor was furious, "How dare the four dragons bring rain without my permission!".

Enraged, he ordered the heavenly generals and their troops to arrest the four dragons. Being far outnumbered, the four dragons could not defend themselves, and they were soon arrested and brought back to the heavenly palace.

The Jade Emperor ordered the Mountain God to lay four mountains upon them so that they might never escape and be imprisoned forever. The Mountain God used his magic power to make four mountains fly to the dragons, whistling in the wind from afar to press down upon them.

Determined to do good for the people forever, they turned themselves into four rivers, which flowed past high mountains and deep valleys, crossing the land from the west to the east and finally emptying into the sea. And so, China's four great rivers were formed -- the Heilongjian (Black Dragon) in the far north, the Huanghe (Yellow River) in central China, the Changjiang (Yangtze, or Long River) farther south, and the Zhujiang (Pearl) in the very far south.

To see the #Chinesedragons depicted at Chirk as well as other #dragons see my article here.

If you enjoy storytelling and folklore you might like to visit my Jack In The Green #ethicalgifts shop where you can find eastern treasures, dragons and other magical beings too.

Wishing you Blessings Of The Four Dragons

Amanda x


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