The largest stonework in the Forbidden City is 1.7 meters thick and weighs 250 tons. There are nine dragons playing in the clouds floating above the sea. In the feudal society. dragon was a symbol of imperial power.
Liu Bang. the emperor of the Western Han Dynasty (206BC-8AD) made up a story which said that his mother dreamed a dream that she united with a dragon and then gave birth to Liu. And it was even said that when Liu got drunk. his dragonhead would emerge. Therefore. Liu became the son of dragon. It was obvious that Liu intended to establish a high image of himself through the legend of dragon and thus to consolidate his position as an emperor. Subsequently. later emperors and those who dreamed to be emperors said that they were the sons of dragon.
After the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD). dragon became the symbol of imperial power and represents the emperor. At that time. the body of the emperor was called dragon body. the face dragon face. clothes dragon robe. and even their offspring were titled dragon sons or dragon grandsons.
When it came to the Yuan (1271-1368). Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. those dragons embroidered in emperors` dragon robes and carved in the palace walls all became five-claw. The five-claw dragon was forbidden for use by common people. and those who dared to use them for decoration would be sentenced to death. The emperors in the Ming and Qing dynasties lived in the Forbidden City and therefore. the walls. windows. ceilings and steps were all carved with dragons.
The common people did not like the royal dragon that stood for the imperial power. They liked another kind of dragon which could bring them good luck and happiness. In festivals. people liked to wield dragon lanterns and dance the dragon dance. In the Dragon Boat Festival. people would hold dragon boat race. There are also many beautiful folk legends about dragon. among which last touch added to a drawing and professed love of what one really fears are very popular.
There are a lot of operas. music. paintings and artworks and idioms about dragon. And the names of mountains. rivers and places with the word dragon are countless in China. Dragon is also one of the twelve animals. which represent the twelve Earthly Branches and are used to symbolize the year in which a person is born.
Nowadays. dragon can no longer represent imperial power; however. it is still believed that it can bless people good luck. And Chinese dragon has a new connotation -- it represents Chinese spirit of diligence and striving upwards. Dragon has become the symbol of the Chinese Nation.