Zhulong

Category : ,

Date : 2021

We’ve always been mythology aficionados, specially to European folklore. Over the years, we started to expand our interest to other cultures over the tribal Africa or ancient China, for example. As a result of this study we were rewarded with a lot of inspirational subjects, more than we expected. 

The ancient Chinese tales fertilised our imagination and Zhulong was born as part of our very own mythology. We have to confess that dragons are not creatures we admire that much but Zhulong is not an ordinary dragon. 

His original name 燭龍 describes an Enlightener Of The Darkness or simply a Torch Dragon. Considered as a God in Chinese pantheon, there is daylight when this creature’s eyes were open, and night when he shuts his eyes. When he blows it is winter, and when he calls out it is summer. He neither drinks, nor eats, nor breathes. If this god does breathe, there are gales.
These attributes are described in “the Classic of Mountains and Seas” (c. 3rd century BCE – 1st century CE).

It is also commonly said that he owns a thousand-mile-long serpent body and he’s scarlet in colour. Looking at the most of the original illustrations, it’s also safe to say he is not a winged dragon. His face, unlike the other dragons, was human and he has vertical eyes that are in a straight seam. 

The place where he lives is explained in an ancient text called the “Huainanzi” (2nd century BCE): “The Torch Dragon dwells north of Wild Goose Gate. He hides himself in Abandoned Wings Mountain and never sees the sun (…)”

“Zhulong” in an edition of “the Classic of Mountains and Seas”, undated.

For our very personal version of Zhulong we decided to add multiple limbs just like a centipede, in contrast to the ancient descriptions that say he’s a legless dragon. The supernumerary body parts mean that we wanted him to be an energetic creature who have stronger influence on material world. 

The original depictions portray a dragon too static and we wanted to change it. The multiple limbs just like the hindu gods could represent different things such as multitasking or speed moving – the visual effect of an array of arms is to create a kinetic energy showing that ability. 

Looking at the design we can observe his hands’ influence on the astral elements as well as in the natural world.

The arms attached to the serpent body are a total of nine. To the Chinese people, the number nine represents a high standard of celestial congruence. Mythologically speaking, the number refers to the nine dragons, sons of the Dragon King- they are generally related to the dynamic forces of nature in Daoism. 

The Dragon King is the zoomorphic representation of the yang , the masculine principle and his human features served as inspiration for our own version of Zhulong – We can assume an unintentional fusion of both and noticing that,  we created a small new hand at the bottom, almost hidden. 

This new limb makes the sum 9+1, nine children and one father – the 10th even number of celestial balance of the nine earthly aspects and one spirit. Sometimes, when this balance is found, a rebirth process begins – the aurora of a new day emerges as Zhulong open his eyes.

At the bottom of the design we can see three I-Ching hexagrams. The first one 乾 (qián) means “Force” and is related mostly to creative power. The second one 震 (zhèn) is the “Thunder” and we see it as a symbol of motivation. The third and last one is 中孚 (zhōng fú) is generally related to the idea of “Inner truth”. Obviously, the three hexagrams have much more personal tone in this case.

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Fragment of the Nine Dragon Wall in Forbidden City, Beijing- Built in 1771.
“Sphinx - Scolopendra - Centepede " from “General Zoology or Systematic Natural History “, George Shaw, 1805. 
Shokuin (Japanese version of Zhulong) from the “Konjaku Hyakki Shūi”, Toriyama Sekien, 1780.
“Dragon King”, Chinese painting from ca 1801-1850.
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