On this dragon robe, or jifu, the three elements – oceans, mountains and the heavens – symbolize the physical order and harmony of the universe. A dragon represents the power of the emperor. The five-clawed “lung dragon” suggests it was worn by a member of the imperial family or high-ranking official. Fine slit-tapestry weaving and metal-thread embroidery further emphasize the wearer’s status.

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Do you know any myths or legends about dragons?

responded: Sep 21, 2011

Posted by Elizabeth Chung

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This legend is from Sweden. Centuries ago, a queen who had been barren for many years finally consulted a soothsayer, who assured her that she would finally be with child--handsome twin boys, in fact--so long as she ate two fresh onions upon her return to the palace. The queen whisked herself away in excitment, unaware that the soothsayer had not finished explaining the conditions of the special pregnancy. She returned home at once and demanded that two fresh onions be brought to her immediately. So caught up in hope stirred by the soothsayers promise, she ravished the first onion, skin and all. The skin of course, tasted terribly bitter, and so the queen took the time to peel away every layer of skin of the second onion before eating it. The time of birth finally came, but the queen did not birth a child; out emerged a lindorm--a snake-like, wingless dragon. Horrified, the queen threw it out the window and it fell--down, down, deep into the forest. The second baby then emerged, and out came a healthy son. The son grew up and ventured out of the palace to find a bride. Instead, he discovered the lindorm, who identified himself and claimed his brother's quest to be futile until the day that he himself had a willing bride. Many a maiden was offered to the lindorm, but all were refused as they did not go willingly before him. Finally a young maiden presented herself, but not without first having encountered the soothsayer. Just a few of his words and the maiden found the courage to face off with the lindorm. Alone they were, and the lindorm commanded the maiden to take off her dress; as she did, he became puzzled upon discovering that she took off but one of many layers that covered her body. The maiden proposed to the lindorm that with every layer she took off, he would match her with a shedding of a layer of his own skin. He agreed. And with her final garment shed and tossed to the floor, she stood naked before the lindorm, who wrapped his slithering body around her, but then something happened--the lindorm, became engulfed in a mysterious mist; and as the air cleared, the maiden found herself wrapped not in the body of a lindorm, but the arms of a man. The most handsome prince she had ever seen. The prince returned to the queen with bride in hand, who restored his rightful place in the lineage of royalty. Years later, as the prince and bride took their place as the new rulers of the land, the queen felt a light tap on her shoulder; it was the soothsayer, ready to reveal the information the queen had not stayed for those many years ago--to peel back all layers of each onion before eating them.

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