This is part of the A-to-Z blog challenge for April. My theme is legends and legendary creatures (both real and fiction). I hope you enjoy following along!
Yong are a different kind of dragon in Korean mythology and folklore. Most dragons in European mythology are linked to the elements of fire and destruction, but dragons in Korean mythology are benevolent beings related to water and agriculture, bringers of rain and clouds. Hence many Korean dragons are said to have resided in rivers, lakes, oceans, and deep mountain ponds.
These dragons could also speak, communicate, and were capable of understanding complex emotions like devotion, kindness, and gratitude. One Korean legend hints that these dragons could have once been human kings. Such as King Munmu, who on his deathbed wished to become a Dragon of the East Sea in order to protect Korea.
Occasionally, in art and statues, a dragon will be depicted carrying an orb in its claws or mouth known as a Cintamani. The Cintamani is a round, wish-fulfilling jewel, said by some to be the equivalent of the philosopher’s stone in Western legend.
Remember all of those old cartoons and video games where the hero has to go out and find “said number of” special jewels or orbs in order to stop the villain’s plan? This could be where the idea of wish-fulfilling / powerful jewels comes from. I’ve fallen prey to this in my own writing, Madnes Solver, as they look for the seven crystals of a dangerous spell. *oops* 😉
It’s fun to know where the idea came from. I’ve often seen Asian dragons depicted with some sort of orb in their mouth, but never understood what it was. The reason dragons are shown with it is because they were believed to be the only ones both wise and powerful enough to wield the jewel’s power.
Another fun/odd fact: The Korean dragon is similar in appearance to dragons of Chinese, Vietnamese and Japanese mythology, but they each have different numbers of claws. Why?
The legend goes that yong who traveled to the West and South grew an extra claw, thus Chinese dragons have five claws. But those who traveled East and North lost a claw, thus dragons from Japan have three claws. This explains why it and all Eastern dragons never made it to Europe or the Americas: by the time it traveled that far, all its toes had been lost and it could no longer walk.
Lol, for some reason I find that funny…
What stories do you know of that deal with magical jewels?
Do you prefer the wise water dragons of Asia or the fierce fire dragons of Europe?
Join us tomorrow in another mysterious legend! Don’t forget to click the “Follow” button to be notified of new blog posts!
(Info credit from: Dragonsinn
Art/gifs belongs to their respective owners, not me. I make no profit through this.)