In increasing uncertain times, people are finding more ways to protect themselves from potential harm. You have dreamcatchers in the United States, four-leaf clovers in Ireland, and Maneki-Nekos (beckoning cats) in Japan. One of the more diverse yet controversial symbols of good luck is the mighty dragon – as there are so many interpretations of dragons and their origin stories across various cultures.
A typical depiction of Western dragons is displayed in Lladró’s Saint George and the Dragon Sculpture Limited Edition, where a hero ends up defeating an evil dragon (right).
Heroic tales of a human saviour vs. an evil dragon form one of the key aspects of Western dragon myths. Western dragons are characterized as greedy, manipulative, and seclusive – usually guarding their own treasure hoard in a dungeon. In many cases, the dragon exists only to provide an unsurmountable challenge that the hero will surpass. Dragons from the West are said to breathe fire and are avoided at all costs by the common public. They typically to have great wings, sharp claws, and are mostly reptilian and lizard-like.
In contrast, many Eastern cultures (and a few Western) see dragons as noble and beneficial beings. They are often part of creation myths, an identifier of royalty, or manifestation of a primordial force. That is why dragons often adorn walls, pillars, and roofs of palaces and temples, and also other artwork as bringers of good luck or protection.
When litted, Lladró’s Dragons Dome Table Lamp highlights the dragon’s beautiful curves and the textural dream-like nature of the heavens (left).
Here are some examples of protective dragons globally:
A celebration of porcelain craftmanship meets the intricate form of the majestic being in Lladró’s Protective Dragon Sculpture Gold and Red Limited Edition, detailed with pearlescent matt and glossy glaze, enamel work and 24K yellow gold lustre.
China’s history of dragons is found to have come from as far back as 5000 B.C. and has been the symbol for imperial rule and royalty in many dynasties. The iconic Chinese dragon have parts of various other animals – horns of a stag, forehead of a camel, eyes of a demon, neck of a snake, scales of a carp, claws of an eagle, and ears of the ox. The dragon is considered one of the 4 most intelligent animals along with the phoenix, tortoise, and unicorn
Lladró’s The Dragon Sculpture Golden Lustre and White (left) is part of the Zodiac Collection, including the Boar Figurine, Rat Figurine, and Snake Figurine.
In the Taoist belief of the Dragon Kings of the Five Directions, five dragon brothers of various colour protected different cardinal directions. Ao Qin (敖欽) is the Vermillion Dragon of the Southern Sea, ruler of the season of Spring, controlling domains of fire and lightning, and warding against disasters and bringing auspiciousness. This is why is has become tradition to perform the dragon dance to pray for peace and good harvest, and to put up red paper decorations of dragons during auspicious days.
The 2 mythical creatures symbolizing Yin and Yang brings heavenly balance in Lladró’s Dragon and Phoenix Table Lamp.
Templo de Quetzalcóatl, Teotihuacan in Central Mexico.
n Mesoamerica, many ethnocultural groups worship a feathered-serpent deity. The Aztec and Mayan variant is called Quetzalcoatl, literally meaning ‘serpent of precious feathers’ but allegorically meaning ‘wisest of men’. He is the patron of wind, agriculture, arts, and knowledge. Archaeologist theorize that he could be part of a trio of creation deities alongside Tlaloc (god of rain, lightning, and thunder) and the Goddess of the Cave (of motherhood, reproduction, and life).
According to Vietnamese legends, the water dragon Lac Long Quan married a fairy in bird form named Au Co, who then laid 100 eggs birthing the Vietnamese civilization. The children grew up to be strong and intelligent like their father, but also kind and skilful like their mother.
Vietnamese people are said to be themselves ‘con rông cháu tiên’, which means ‘children of the dragon and fairy’. This legend is important to many Vietnamese due to the lessons of unity and tolerance, as well as the equality of both women and men.
The exterior wall of Lladró’s Chinese Dragon Vase showcases the beautiful scales in glossy white porcelain, contrasting with the deep red inside (top left).
The Bhutanese flag, featuring Druk the Thunder Dragon.
Druk is the Thunder Dragon of Tibetan and Bhutanese mythology, known to communicate ideas and discern lies from fiction. It carries a powerful thunderbolt, to shock people on the wrong path to get them back on track and avoid repeating false beliefs. Due to its’ spiritual importance, Druk is featured prominently on the Bhutanese flag holding jewels representing wealth, as well as in the national anthem (Druk Tsenden, literally meaning Thunder Dragon Kingdom) and national emblem.
A mural of the rainbow serpent at Marrickville Public School, NSW, created by artist Robin Martin.
The Rainbow Serpent is a creator deity known by numerous names by various Australian Aboriginal people, integral in Aboriginal mythology known as The Dreaming. Like the archetypal mother goddess, the Rainbow Serpent creates land, water and diversity, and protects its people, but will bring great chaos when disturbed. When a rainbow is seen in the sky, it is supposed to be the Rainbow Serpent travelling from one waterhole to another. This is meant to explain why some waterholes never dry up during droughts.
Read on below to other articles of auspiciousness:
- From Cats to Koi: Good Luck Symbols in Samurai Culture
- Why are turtles, koi, and elephants symbolic of longevity?
- A Compendium of All the Dog Breeds Lladró Makes
The commemorative Lladró’s Dragon Sculpture Limited Edition is a limited edition of 777 units to celebrate Lladró’s 7 decades of developing porcelain. Despite the paper origami form, the metallic oxide used to intensify the red pigments give the flat matt porcelain surfaces a textured graininess.