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The Dragon in China and Japan
Dr. M. W. VISSER
Verhandelingen der Koninklijke Akademie van Wetense to Amsterdam
DEEL XIII No. 2
The student of Chinese and Japanese religion and folklore soon discovers
the mighty influence of Indian thought upon the Far-Eastern mind. Buddhism
introduced a great number of Indian, not, especially Buddhist, conceptions and
legends, clad in a Buddhist garb, into the eastern countries, in China. Taoisrn
was ready to gratefully take up these foreign elements which in many respects
reseualded its own ideas or were of the same nature. In this way the store of
ancient Chinese legends was not only largely enriched, but they were also mixed
up with the Indian fables. The same process took place in Japan, when Buddiusm,
after having conquered Korea, in the sixth century of our era, reached Dai
Nippon's shores. Before a, hundred years had elapsed the Japanese mind got
imbued with foreign ideas, partly Chinese, partly Indian. To the mixture of
these two elements a third one, consisting of the original Japanese
conceptions, was added, and a very intricate complex was formed. Whoever
studies the Japanese legends has the difficult task of analysing this complex
into its parts.
No mythical creature is more familiar to Far Eastern art and literature
than the dragon. It is interesting to observe how in Japan three different
kinds of dragons, originating from India, China, and Japan, are to he found
side by side. To the superficial observer they all belong to one and the same
class of rain bestowing, thunder and storm arousing gods of the water, hut. a
careful examination teaches us that they are different from each other.
The Indian serpent-shaped Naga was identified in China with the four-legged
Chinese dragon, because both were divine inhabitant; of seas and rivers, and
givers of rain. It is no wonder that the Japanese in this blending of Chinese
and Indian ideas recognized their own serpent or dragon-shaped gods of rivers
and mountains, to whom they used to pray for rain in times of drought. Thus the
ancient legends of three countries were combined, and teatures of the one were
used to adorn the other. In order to throw light upon these facts we must
examine the Buddhist ideas concerning the Nagas which came from lndia, to the
East. Being not acquainted with the Sanscrit language, we have to refer to the
works of European scholars and to translations, in order to explain the western
elements found in Chinese and Japanese dragon legends. This being our only aim
with regard to the Nagas, we will deal with them only by way of introduction.
In the First Book we have systematically arranged the most interesting
quotations concerning the dragon in China, selected from the enormous number of
passages on this divine animal found in Chinese literature from the remotest
ages down to modern times. In order to give the original conceptions we did not
quote the numerons poems on the dragon, because the latter, although based upon
those conceptions, enlarged then in their own poetical way. The Second Book
treats of the dragon in Japan, considered in the light of the facts given by
the Introduction and Book 1.
I avail myself of this opportunity to express my hearty thanks to
Professor De Groot, whose kind assistance enabled me to largely extend the
Chinese part of this paper. Not only was his very rich and interesting library
at my disposal, but he himself was an invaluable guide to me through the
labyrinth of many a dilticnlt Chinese passage. Moreover, front the very
beginning his splendid works, especially the Religious System of
Japan, formal the basis of my studies in Chinese and Japanese religion and
I also tender my best thanks to Professor Speyer, who with great
kindness gave me most valuable information concerning the Nagas, and to Miss E.
SCHMIDT, who kindly put her koowledge and time at my disposal in undertaking
the weary labour of perusing the manuscript and correcting its language.
M. W. de Visser
THE NAGA IN BUDDHISM, WITH REGARD TO HIS IDENTIPICATION WITH THE CHINESE DRAGON.
- The Nagn according to European scholars
- The Naga according to some translated tests
- The Saga as a giver of rain.
- Sutras recited in rain ceremonies
BOOK I. THE DRAGON IN CHINA.
- Yih king
- Shu king
- Li ki
- Cheu li
- I li
DIVINATION AND GEOMANCY
- Lucky omens
- Bad omens
- Fighting dragons
- Dead Dragons
- Dragons appearing at wrong times
- Dragons appearing in wrong places
- Enormous light-giving mountain gods.
- Nature of the dragons
- What dragons like and dislike
- Shape of the dragons .
- Male and female dragons
- Different kinds of dragons.
- Kiao lung
- Rearing and taming dragons
- Dragons ridden by sien, or drawing the cars of gods and holy men.
- Dragon-tail-road" and other words connected with the dragon.
- Dragon's dens
- Dragon herds
- Dragon's pearls
- Dragon's eggs
- Dragon's bones, skins, teeth, horns, brains, livers, placentae and fetus, used as medicines
- Dragon's blood, fat and saliva
- Symbols of Imperial dignity and fertilizing rain, represented on
garments, honorary gates, coffins etc.
- Nine different kinds of dragons, used as ornaments
- Ornaments used by Wu-ist priests and mediurns
- 4. The dragons and the ball
CAUSING RAIN, THUNDER AND STORM
- The gods of thunder, clouds and rain.
- Violent rains accompanied by heavywinds and thunderstorms.
- Rain magic and prayers.
- Buddhist rain ceremonies.
EMPERORS CONNECTED WITH DRAGONS
- Hwang Ti rode on a dragon
- Yao and Kao Tsu were sons of dragons
- Shun was visited by a yellow dragon
- Yu drove in a
carriage drawn by dragons, and was assisted by a ying lung
- Ming Hwangs vessel was rnoved forward by a dragon
- Two yellow dragons threatened to upset Yu's vessel
- Shi Hwang died on account of having killed a dragon
- The dragon's transformations are Indiinited
- Appearing as old uien or beantifal women
- Appearing as fishes
- Appearing as snakes, dogs or rats
- A cow transformed into a dragon
- Appearing as objects
THE INDIAN NAGA IN CHINA
- Reborn as a dragon
- Ponds inhabited by Dragon-kings
- Temples of Dragon-kings
- Palaces of Dragon-kings
THE DRAGON IN JAPAN
THE ORIGINAL DRAGON-GODS OF RIVERS, SEAS AND MOUNTAINS.
- Yamaatsumi and Mitsua.
- Mizuhi, the rivergods
- Oho-uatatsumi, the sea-god
- The jewels of flood and ebb
- Take-hua Tatsu no Mikoto, the dragon-god of a sacred pond in Higo province
- An Emperors dragon-tail
THE CHINESE DRAGON AND THE DRAGON-HORSE AS OMENS IN JAPAN
- Flying dragon as the horse of a ghost or a sien
- Carriage of a ghost drawn through the air by eight dragons
- A dragon appears as a good omen
- Shinto gods
- Horses offered to Shinto gods
- Buddhism wins field
- The Sacred Spring Park
- The "Dragon-hole" on Mount Murobo
- Reborn as a rain-giving dragon
- Buddhist priests dominating the dragons
- Dragon-women in ponds
- Stirring up the dragons by throwing iron
- A dragon engraved on an incense pot believed to or filth into their ponds.
cause rain. Pine trees cause clouds to rise and rain to fall
- The eight Dragon-kings
- A Buddhist dragon's suicide
THE INDIAN NAGA IN JAPAN
- The Dragon-kings rever Buddha's Law
- Dragons appear at the dedication of Buddhist temples
- Dragons living in ponds or lakes, mostly near Buddhist shrines.
- Reborn as dragons
- Dragon-kings of the sea check the course of vessels in order to obtain special Buddhist
treasures as offerings
- The "jewel which grants all desires" (eintonmni).
- The eight Dragon-kings
- The Dragon-gods of the innerr and outer seas
- Dragons connected with Buddhist priests.
- Eight dragons ridden through the sky by a Buddhist deity
- Curses, wrought by dragons
- Relics of dragons preserved in Buddhist temples
- The "Dragon-Flower-meeting
CHINESE AND INDIAN DRAGONS
CONNECTED WITH JAPANESE DEITIES
- Sagara the Dragon-king, the Yamato no orochi, Antoku Tenno and tho Kusanagi sword.
- The Thunder-god caught by Sukaruand identified with the Dragon-king
- Watatsumi no kami, the, Son-god, identified with a Dragon-king.
- The dragon-hole in tho Giou shrine.
- The dragon-snake offered by the Sea-god
- A dragon-snake as a tree-sprite on Koya santo the Sada shrine
- The "Heavenly Dragon's Well" at Suwa shrine
- Kurikara Myo-o, the dragon-Shaped mountain god
- Dengyo Daishi's image of Yakashi Nyorai
- Kobu Daishi's spirit
- Jigen Daishi's spirit
- "Dragon-lantern Pine trees"
- Tide-stones connected with dragon-lanterns
- The moutain-light and the Dragon-lantern of Gantmokuzan in Etchu province
- Kwannon's dragon-lantern at Ryukoji
- Tomyo-dake, Kumano Gongen at Nugami, Kwomyoji at Kanmkara and Zenkwoji at Nagan
- The light of Yutsukuea
- The lights of Ushijima, Ishidozau and Kurikara11. Ignes fatai in general. The
dragon-lantern is the only one which arises front the sea and flies to the mountains
CHINESE DRAGON'S EGGS IN JAPAN
- The dragon-fetus remains in the egg for three thousand years.
- Dragons born from beautiful stones picked up in the mountains
THE TATSUMAKI, OR DRAGON'S ROLL
- Dragons which ascended to heaven
- Tatsumaki in Yedo
- Tatsumaki on the sea
- Snakes rise as dragons up to the clouds
JAPANESE, CHINESE AND INDIAN DRAGONS IN GEOGRAPHICAL TEMPLE AND PRIEST NAMES
- The Japanese dragon (tatsu)
- The Chinese and Indian dragons (rya or ryo) .
- Names of mountains,
- Names of springs, waterfalls and rivers
- Names of islands, valley, and places
- Names of Buddhist temples
- Names of Buddhist priests