The dragon is a mystique and auspicious animal in Chinese mythology, with its image having the features of a number of animals: bull’s head, deer antlers, shrimp’s eyes, donkey’s mouth, human beard, snake’s body, and eagle’s claws. It can walk, fly, swim, and even raise clouds and make rain. It holds boundless supernatural powers and can transform itself into different creatures at will. As one of the oldest totems of the Chinese nation, the dragon became a symbol of the emperor or the imperial house after the Qin and Han dynasties. Later, it further evolved into a common spiritual and cultural symbol of the Han ethnic group and all Chinese people. In China, the dragon represents unity, power, reverence, dignity, excellence and good luck, which is quite opposite to the evil and greedy dragon in Western mythology and tradition.
The most powerful among scaly animals, the dragon can hide itself or be visible, be small or huge, be short or long. At the Spring equinox it mounts into the sky, and at the Autumn equinox it hides deep in the water. (Xu Shen: Explanation of Script and Elucidation of Characters)
A dragon can be big or small, and it can soar or hide. When big, it raises clouds and spews mist. When small, it conceals its body and becomes invisible. When soaring, it flies up in space, and when hiding, it lies low in the waves… A true hero should act just like a dragon. (Luo Guanzhong: Romance of the Three Kingdoms)