The Oriental Dragon Tradition

Background Information

Oriental dragons have many similarities with Western dragons but also some significant differences. Whereas Western dragons are usually found in mountains or forests, Oriental dragons are more likely to be found in the sea. Many oriental dragons resemble water snakes. Oriental dragons rarely breath fire, instead if a mortal annoys one then it is likely to result in great floods.

The traditional Western dragon is often seen as a brutish creature to be feared. Oriental dragons tended to be wise and benevolent - as long as they were given the respect they deserved. Their chief flaw was their vanity and if insulted could cause dreadful natural disasters.

Oriental dragons fly to and from heaven in clouds but do not usually have wings. Some sources say that they gain wings after living for a thousand years.

Dragon Toes

To identify the origin of an Oriental dragon, look at its claws. If it has five claws per foot it probably comes from China. Three claws means Japan. Four claws means Korea.

China and Japan have interesting legends to explain this. The Chinese say that dragons originated in China and lost toes as they spread further afield. This is why they could not reach the West, because if they did they would have no toes left.

The Japanese take a different view. They argue that dragons orginated in Japan and grew toes as they travelled. If they travelled too far then they would end up with too many toes to be able to walk properly!