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Amber: Hey everybody, welcome back to Amber and Victor’s Chinese buffet.
Victor: 大家好 (dàjiā hǎo), 我是 (Wǒ shì) Victor.
Amber: And I am Amber and today’s segment is Chewing the Fat and today we are going to dissect to an aspect of Chinese culture and ancient.
Victor: Very close to the Chinese hearts.
Amber: Very close to your heart, Victor?
Victor: Yes very.
Amber: It’s the dragon.
Victor: Dragons, 龙 (lóng).
Amber: Yes. Okay so it is close to Victor’s heart he mentions because did you know that Chinese people around the world complain that they are the descendents of Dragons.
Victor: Yeah it’s very sentimental. I mean it’s a phrase that you know, it’s called 龙的传人 (lóng de chuánrén) the descendents of the Dragon.
Amber: How does that feel for Chinese people like dragons are kind of scary and ugly like why is it sentimental?
Victor: Not necessarily in the Chinese mind because it kind of represents you know the nation, the Chinese peoples and it’s very close. I mean it has a lot of historic values and sentiments. So when you say 龙的传人 (lóng de chuánrén) it sounds very grand.
Amber: So kids in China don’t look at the dragon and think of it like a monster. It’s like something like they like it like a – kind of like how we look at the Smurfs or something.
Victor: Maybe not.
Amber: But it’s not like Puff the Magic Dragon either.
Victor: Yeah.
Amber: Right.
Victor: It’s not necessarily that scary because it is like a higher sense of glory, represents your ethnic groups and you know like a whole country historic value and all that.
Amber: Kind of like the Beaver in Canada.
Victor: You know also like the Eagle in the US?
Amber: Yes.
Victor: Right. It is like representing something bigger.
Amber: Ah okay that makes sense.
Victor: The ideal….Yeah.
Amber: Well interestingly, the earliest known image of a dragon in China, do you know when it was discovered? They said it’s in a sculpture, a Dragon Totem sculpture that is 6000 years old.
Victor: Oh okay.
Amber: And it’s interesting because even the sort of preconception or misconception that I have about dragons, it is probably somewhat related to the fact that later on, this sort of concept of evil was introduced into this aspect of Dragons but originally it wasn’t like that at all.
Victor: Right because I think Dragon in Chinese mystical stories have the power to kind of fly and to bring rain and clouds. So it’s very good for the weather for the harvest. So it’s always traditionally been a target of worship. So people just look at it as a very helpful creature.
Amber: Yeah and they believe that dragons were able to ward off evil spirits and that’s why when you look at Chinese cities and ancient structures and things like that, there is always lots of dragons decorating the monuments and the buildings.
Victor: Right.
Amber: And even on the garments of the generals back in ancient times and the emperor, he would have it on his Brocade.
Victor: Yeah that’s very interesting point actually because Dragon traditionally has been identified with the royal family, more so in the more recent dynasties like the Ching dynasty. You know only the emperor would have the dragons on his garments and then for the empress, it would be phoenix. It is like the female version of the dragon. So 龍鳳呈祥 (lóngfèng chéng xiáng) actually is a very common phrase you will hear and it is just meant for weddings and for couples you know. It means dragon and phoenix are a good pair. So you still see that a lot right now in Chinese weddings.
Amber: And you know it was actually the Buddhists that introduced the concept of evil to the Chinese weddings.
Victor: Really?
Amber: Yes. Before that time like you said, they were thought to bring rain, good crops, that sort of stuff. Okay so now-a-days, there is like different kinds of dragons actually and they represent different kinds of things and one thing is that the dragon is also one of the 12 of the Chinese zodiacs.
Victor: Exactly.
Amber: Basically people who are born in the year of the dragon, they are said to be forceful, energetic, intelligent, lucky and fearless. Victor, were you born in the year of the dragon?
Victor: No I am not.
Amber: You are all these things and more.
Victor: I….
Amber: They said they make good confident leaders, people born near the dragon. Well here is the ultimate test. Were you or were you not born in 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988 or 2000, were you?
Victor: In 2012, no.
Amber: Well start family planning now because you still got a chance, 2012 everyone.
Victor: Have a dragon kid.
Amber: Have a dragon.
Victor: That’s the best thing you can have. No I am a rat. Still pretty good, the first one…animal.
Amber: I think that the Dragon sounds a bit more romantic.
Victor: Yeah the rat has its own – put these also.
Amber: Qualities. Well that’s another topic for another day but basically the people born in the year of the dragon are said to make good confident leaders. So I wonder was Obama you know near the dragon.
Victor: Oh I am not sure.
Amber: We can check that out. Okay so now that we’ve learned a little bit about the background of the dragon, let’s get to know the dragon’s persona a little bit more.
Victor: Oh yeah personalities.
Amber: Yes they have fears and hopes and dreams like all of us Victor. Well here is one thing that there is something about iron that dragons are afraid of iron.
Victor: Oh.
Amber: Because you can supposedly slay a dragon with a magical iron sword, needle or wand; and I just love a monster that you can slay with a needle. It’s something comforting about it.
Victor: That wouldn’t be good, that wouldn’t be good. I guess the dragons also fear centipedes because….
Amber: I fear centipedes as well.
Victor: They can crawl up a dragon…
Amber: I almost have stepped on one ones. Okay why do they fear them?
Victor: Because they can just crawl up on the dragon’s nose and then eat its brain out.
Amber: Okay I fear that the centipede will crawl on my nose.
Victor: I don’t know, I am not sure.
Amber: I don’t blame them.
Victor: I am not sure if that paints a really good picture for the dragon because it seems like.
Amber: I know. I mean centipede looks a little bit smaller.
Victor: It should have all these magical powers, it can ward off evil and things like that, right?
Amber: Yeah but the centipede its achilles heel. We found it. Okay well they also have other phobias. Dragons are also afraid of tigers because they are the only animal as powerful as the dragon and you know like there is like these mythological surveys where there has been like fierce tiger dragon face-offs.
Victor: Yeah or they can be – you know the actually interesting point, the movie Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.
Amber: Yeah, what’s that all about?
Victor: It sounds so much better in Chinese. It’s called 卧虎藏龙 (Wò hǔ cáng lóng). It’s a phrase in Chinese and when you translate it into English, it’s Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon but actually the phrase is used to describe a lot of hidden talents. I guess in that sense, you know, the tiger and the dragon are both, they are powerful creatures and so they are kind of hidden not really explicit but they are very talented.
Amber: And there is one more thing. These dragons seem to be losing their sort of…
Victor: Oh gosh!
Amber: Like the mythological power when I read more about them.
Victor: Yeah we are pointing out all the shortcomings of the dragon.
Amber: All the weaknesses, they are also afraid of fire because it’s the one element they are not in tune with.
Victor: Yeah I guess, you know dragons don’t like fire because they are traditionally in Chinese culture kind of associated with water. They are more of a creature of the water. In Chinese mystical stories, there are four dragon kings that live in the four seas. So 四海龙王 (Sì Hǎi longwang) and you know in the story for the Monkey King and you know, the dragon kings or his friends can help them out and you know with water and all sorts of things.
Amber: Hey I wonder if Puff the Magic Dragon is one of his friends because he said, he lived by the sea.
Victor: Yeah.
Amber: It could have been.
Victor: They are like water.
Amber: It’s diplomacy.
Victor: They are like water.
Amber: The Chinese dragons met the western dragons by the water for a summit, yeah. Okay well, as we mentioned, you can see a lot of dragons in China in city walls, city gates.
Victor: Right.
Amber: Buildings. There is a really popular tourist site where you can go yourself and see some – well, 635 dragons actually.
Victor: So there is one place in Beihai Park 北海公园 (Běihǎi gōngyuán) in Beijing. It’s very famous tourist site. It’s called the Nine-Dragon Wall.
Amber: built in 1756, very ancient.
Victor: 九龙壁 (jiǔlóngbì) You see a lot of these pictures in tourist websites or commercials and things.
Amber: And basically it’s got ceramic tiles and it’s colorfully depicted well hundreds of dragons and in the center of the wall, there is a giant dragon.
Victor: Yeah.
Amber: So definitely go check out the dragons in Beihai Park for those of you going to Beijing.
Victor: Very famous yes and another really interesting thing about Dragon, I think a lot of our western listeners may not know is, Jackie Chan, his Chinese name is 成龙 (Chénglóng) which means to become a dragon.
Amber: Oh.
Victor: Yes.
Amber: It’s kind of cool.
Victor: And of course it’s not his real name but his – you know the name is 成龙 (Chénglóng) and it has a lot of kind of like mmph to it.
Amber: That’s right.
Victor: You know, become a dragon and he is famous in the west, but even more so in China because of the good name and the good image that he has.
Amber: He is the dragon, he has become the dragon.
Victor: He is becoming a dragon. Also Bruce Lee, his Chinese name is 李小龙 (Lǐ xiǎo lóng).
Amber: Oh he was trying to like get some of that.
Victor: 李小龙 (Lǐ xiǎo lóng) and also “little dragon”.
Amber: Oh he knew his place. He was like I couldn’t take over the master but I could learn from him.
Victor: So as you can see, dragon means a lot to Chinese people.
Amber: Well speaking of being a dragon, you know that you can take a quiz online, I found it for what kind of dragon are you. And I did it.
Victor: And what are you?
Amber: And I am the earth dragon.
Victor: The earth dragon?
Amber: Yes.
Victor: And what other kind of dragons are there?
Amber: I don’t know. You’ve to go on there and see, there is like fire dragon and stuff like that. So everyone go find – quiz online and find out what kind of dragon you are.
Victor: Yeah.
Amber: And make sure you start keeping your eyes peeled for the dragons of China when you go there.
Victor: Yeah let us know what kind of dragons you are.
Amber: So that’s it for the Chinese buffet today and if you want to learn more Chinese or about Chinese culture, make sure to come visit us at chineseclass101.com we have lots of lessons there that can give you lot of insights about China and also teach you how to speak Chinese. 再见 (zàijiàn)!
Victor: 再见 (zàijiàn).