When you think of China, one of the things that come to mind is dragons. They are an important part of Chinese culture. That is why you see it almost everywhere, from the architecture to the artifacts and even in most festivities. Aside from dragons, however, phoenixes are also important, especially in Chinese mythology.
The two are often depicted and referenced together in many Chinese folktales and literature. In this post, we will be looking at what they both mean, and what they symbolize in Chinese culture. We will also look at what dragon and phoenix Chinese food is.
What Is the Meaning of Dragon and Phoenix?
Both of these mythological creatures are said to be lucky and powerful. Starting with the phoenix, the bird is described as the ruler of all birds. It’s said to have a golden pheasant’s head, a parrot’s beak, a mandarin duck’s body, a crane’s legs, a peacock’s tail, and a swallow’s wings. Its main colors are red, white, green, yellow, and black. Its body is said to represent the five virtues of benevolence, propriety, wisdom, sincerity, and righteousness. Its body all represents the celestial bodies, where the sun is its eyes, the moon is its back, the sky is its head, the wind is its wings, the earth is its feet and the planets are its tail. Initially, there were both male (Feng) and female (Huang) phoenixes, who represented yin and yang. Over time that was blurred to form one feminine entity (Fenghuang) which was the Yin energy.
The dragon on the other hand was described to have the mouth of a bull, the nose of a dog, whiskers like a catfish, scales like the fish, antlers like a deer’s, claws similar to hawks, a long tail like a snake’s and a mane that resembles a lion. There were a variety of dragons who varied in color and carried different meanings. Overall, dragons were seen as a representation of strength and power.
What Do the Dragon and Phoenix Symbolize in Chinese Culture?
According to Chinese mythology, the dragon and phoenix are powerful symbols when paired together. The phoenix is considered the female entity that is usually paired with the dragon that’s generally assumed to be a masculine entity. They are both important figures in Chinese culture and a part of the four celestial animals aside from the tiger and turtle. They symbolize good fortune and success. Based on Feng shui, as partners they are considered the greatest symbol of love.
In Chinese folklore, the phoenix is a mystical bird that rules over all the birds. It is the representation of rebirth and transformation as well as beauty and good luck. It is considered to be a fire animal able to control the fire element. It also represents the south direction in China. The dragon, on the other hand, is depicted as a revered and majestic creature able to control the water element. It is believed that the dragon is the ultimate representation of the divine forces of the earth.
The two creatures together represent the true manifestation of the Yin and Yang energies. The dragon represents the true masculine energy which is the yang, while the phoenix is considered the true manifestation of the feminine energy which is the yin. In marriage, the two are seen as a symbol of a harmonious and happy marriage due to their perfect balance. In life, they symbolize success and good fortune.
In ancient China, they were both used as symbols of royalty. The dragon symbolized the emperor while the phoenix symbolized the empress. These symbols would be embroidered into the robes of the emperor and empress and they would wear them as a sign of honor. Today, people in China especially married couples keep paintings or items engraved with the two creatures in their homes. They believe that their presence will bring prosperity to their home and strengthen the love between a husband and wife.
What Is Dragon and Phoenix Chinese Food.
Aside from being incorporated into Chinese culture the symbolic meaning of the dragon and phoenix has also been incorporated into Chinese cuisine. If you go to a Chinese restaurant, you may see a symbol of a dragon or phoenix next to a dish, or maybe the dish may be named after them.
Starting with dragon food, in authentic Chinese restaurants, dragon foods are normally seafood. That means fish like shrimp, prawn, eel, lobster, or any fish that has an elongated body like that of a dragon. In American Chinese restaurants, dragon foods are normally meant as shrimp. The dishes are also presented in a manner that closely resembles the dragon, to add more authenticity to the cuisine.
As for the phoenix, being that it’s a bird that rules over all birds, phoenix Chinese food is normally a representation of poultry dishes. In American Chinese restaurants, the phoenix food on the menu is normally chicken, while in authentic Chinese restaurants it could also include squab, duck, or turkey. Like the dragon dishes, the birds are served in a manner that looks like a phoenix rising from the ashes.
When the two foods are brought together, they symbolize peace and harmony. This is because fish like shrimp is found in the sea while birds are creatures of the sky. Therefore, putting both on one plate depicts balance and harmony. The two dishes together also symbolize bliss, since the phoenix and dragon are seen as the ultimate symbol of love. It is believed that whoever eats the dragon and phoenix dish, will experience luck, true love, and prosperity.
On their own, the two mythical creatures hold deep and significant meaning, each bringing luck and good fortune to those they favor. But when paired together, they are a powerful representation of love, balance, peace, and harmony. That is why the pair is considered the most powerful symbol in Chinese culture and mythology. If you want to invite true love or strengthen the relationship between you and your partner, you might want to consider posting them in your home.