Saturday, 22 August 2009

Dragon Tales

The dragon in China is a different beast from the evil monster in the west. They are potent symbols of power and control, they are the Yang to the Phoenix Yin. In these tiles, you can see that they have 5 claws, which marks them out as the Emperor's and so you won't be surprised that I came upon them in a quiet corner of the Forbidden Palace, the Court of Eternal Longevity.

I've found a link to a 360 view so you can see it in situ here:


carolyn said...

This is beautiful. It was fun moving around in the Court and gazing on the wall of dragon tiles but your little picture is perfect. I love dragons and it does me good to have been born in a Year of the Dragon. The concept of contained fire, contained but ready.

carolyn said...

oh I meant also to wonder about "the Court of Eternal Longevity": would that be our clumsy attempt to translate a not-translatable concept? that is, to western understanding, "eternity" contains and moves beyond "time," so how could there be "eternal" "longevity"? Eternity does away with the need for longevity?

Ham said...

I'm afraid my command of Chinese idiom is somewhat limited, but I'd say you were right because there is so much that we can only approximate in English. Chinese is astonishing rich in its nuance with the meaning of the word often affected by the composition of the written character.

As a very simple example, the word for tree is 木 . a forest? 林 a big forest? 森 Then there is also 林区 which is uncountable area of trees.

carolyn said...

well I did know that about the word-pictures of the "letters," but oh I like very much "big forest"--says the concepts better, much better than "big forest," yes?--thanks
--and by the way, I think the English did a bit better with "earthly tranquility," at least I can imagine that, if I seldom realize it
--and I love your Earthly Tranquility photo, of COURSE all the fuss, who would not?;)