龙生九子 The Nine Sons of the Dragon

The dragon is one of the totems of ancient China and symbolizes power, influence, rank, dignity, honour, good fortune and success in Chinese culture and folklore. It is an animal that lives only in people’s imagination, and according to legend, it has the head of a bull, the horns of a deer, the eyes of a lobster, the body of a snake, the claws of a hawk, and the tail of a lion. 龙是古代中国的图腾之一,在中国文化中是权势、高贵、尊荣的象征,又是幸运与成功的标志。据传说,它长着牛头,鹿角,虾眼,蛇身,鹰爪和狮尾。

Legend has it that the dragon has nine sons, but none has grown into a dragon, with each having his own appearance, duty, likes and dislikes. Designs of the nine sons of the dragon were often used to decorate the eaves, bridges, balustrades, and terrace bases of ancient Chinese buildings , weapons and vessels.

九龙子即汉族神话传说中龙生的九个儿子,每个都不成龙的形态,而且各自长相、职责、喜好都不同。他们的形状常被用来作为中国古代建筑的屋檐、桥梁、栏杆、底座等,及兵器、容器的装饰。

The so-called “nine sons of the dragon” doesn’t mean that the dragon has exactly nine sons. In traditional Chinese culture, the number “nine” suggests a large number and is put in a supreme status. Nine is not an exact number, but a noble number. That’s why it is used to describe the number of sons the dragon has. For example, a Chinese dragon is normally described in terms of nine attributes and usually has 117 (9×13) scales – 81 (9×9) Yang and 36 (9×4) Yin.

所谓的“龙有九子”并不是说龙恰好有九个儿子。汉族传统文化中,以九来表示极多,有至高无上的地位,九是个虚数,也是贵数,所以用来描述龙子。如龙有117块鳞(9×13)- 81 (9×9) 阳和 36片阴(9×4)。

What are the names of the nine sons of the dragon? The answers differ according to different records, and each record gives each of them a different character and different habit. The question is, did the ancient Chinese people give the nine sons of the dragon different characters according to their different decorative uses or give them different decorative uses according to their different characters? No one knows, but it is interesting to compare their different names and characters with their different decorative functions.

龙九子的名字都是什么?不同的记载名字不同,性格习惯也不同。古代人们是根据他们的不同的装饰作用来决定他们的性格特点还是反之呢?没人知道。但比较下他们的名字、性格特征和不同的装饰作用还是挺有趣的。

1. 囚牛(qiú niú),平生好音乐,今胡琴头上刻是其遗像 loves music, he likes to crouch on the head of stringed instruments and listens to music. So his figure became a common decoration on the bridge of stringed musical instruments.

2. 睚眦(yá zì)平生好杀,金刀柄上龙吞口是其遗像.Ya Zi is bad-tempered, fractious, and inclined to fight, so he often appears on ancient weapons. He can be seen on sword-hilts, knife hilts and battle axe. It is said that his figure can add power to these weapons.

3. 嘲风(Cháo Fēng):模样像狗,平生好险又好望,其形象常饰于殿台角. Shapes like a dog. Chao Feng is fearless, loves to take risks and watch from high places, so he decorates the corners of palace roofs in ancient China.

4. 蒲牢(pú láo) 平生好鸣,今钟上兽钮是其遗像。Pulao is fond of roaring and his figure is put on bell handles. He lives near the sea, though he is one son of the dragon, but he fears to meet the big whale. When the whale attacks, he fears to roar loudly.

5. 狻猊(suān ní)平生好坐,喜煙火,常出现在香炉上。His figure is like a lion. Suanni likes to sit down, is fond of smoke and fire; his likeness can be seen on the legs of incense-burners.

 

 

6. 赑屃(bì xì),又名霸下,形似龟,平生好负重,力大无穷,碑座下的龟趺是其遗像。His figure is like tortoise, Baxia has great strength and likes to carrying heavy things. BaXia loves words , so he is used to carry stone tablets with inscriptions. In China, many famous steles are carried by Baxia.

7. 狴犴(bì àn), 又名宪章,样子像虎,有威力,平生好讼,人们便将其刻铸在监狱门上,故民间有虎头牢的说法。狱门上部那虎头形的装饰便是其遗像。又相传它主持正义,能明是 非,秉公而断,再加上它的形象威风凛凛,因此它也被安在衙门大堂两侧以及官员出巡回避的牌上端,以维护公堂的肃然之气。Also called “xian zhang”, shaped like a tiger, He is wise and likes litigation, can tell who is good or evil, are placed over prison gates (in order to keep guard), or two sides of the government court, or the top of the official touring board.

8. 负屃(fù Xì),平生好文,身似龙,雅好斯文,盘绕在石碑头顶 或两侧,石碑两旁的文龙是其遗像。我国碑碣的历史久远,内容丰富,它们有的造型古朴,碑体细滑、明亮,光可鉴人;有的刻制精致,字字有姿,笔笔生动;也有 的是名家诗文石刻,脍炙人口,千古称绝。而负屃十分爱好这种闪耀着艺术光彩的碑文,它甘愿化做图案文龙去衬托这些传世的文学珍品,把碑座装饰得更为典雅秀 美。它们互相盘绕着,看去似在慢慢蠕动,和底座的霸下相配在一起,更觉壮观。which have the shape of the [chilong 螭龍], fond of literature, are represented on the sides of grave-monuments with inscriptions.

 

9. 螭吻/鸱吻(chī wěn) 平生好吞,今殿脊兽是其遗像, 又名鸱尾或鸱吻,鱼形的龙(也有说像剪了尾巴的蜥蜴),龙形的吞脊兽,口阔噪粗,平生好吞,殿脊两端的卷尾龙头是其遗像,即殿脊的兽头之形。在佛经中,螭吻是雨神座下之物,能够灭火。所以把它安在屋脊两头也有作消灾灭火的功效。相传是大约在南北朝时,由印度‘摩竭鱼’随佛教传入的。故此,螭吻由此变化出来,所以它多安在屋脊两头,作消灾灭火的功效。《太平御览》有如下记述:“唐会要目,汉相梁殿灾后,越巫言,‘海中有鱼虬,尾似鸱,激浪即降雨’遂作其像于尾,以厌火祥。”文中所说的“巫”是方士之流,“鱼虬”则是螭吻的前身。螭吻属水性,用它作镇邪之物以避火。

Chi Wen likes swallowing things. The four beasts that swallow the ridges of the hall in the picture are all Chi Wen, so he is also called the Ridge-Swallowing Beast. He is said to be in charge of rainfall, so the design has the purpose of safeguarding palaces from fire.

上海造币厂2012年龙年时曾发行过银质和铜质两套龙九子纪念币,也才用了以上龙之九子的说法。The 9 sons of the dragon were recognized by the Chinese government’s official Shanghai Mint in 2012’s year of the dragon by issuing 2 sets of coins, one in silver and one in brass. Each coin in the 9 coin sets depicts one of the 9 sons. A 10th additional coin was issued depicting the father dragon in silver and brass, which has iconography of the 9 sons on the reverse, for a total of 20 coins in the series. The coins are certified by NGC with the following names:Of course there are other sayings.

当然,不同的传说,龙九子也不尽相同。如椒图、蚣蝮、饕餮等:

  1. 椒图(jiāo tú), 形状像螺蚌,性好闭,最反感别人进入它的巢穴,铺首衔环为其形象。因而人们常将其形象雕在大门的铺首上,或刻画在门板上。螺蚌遇到外物侵犯,总是将壳口紧合。人们将其用于门上,大概就是取其可以紧闭之意,以求安全吧。Jiaotu is as tight-lipped as a mussel or a snail. His image is carved on doors.
  2. 蚣蝮(bā xià),子似鱼非鱼,善水性,体态优美,饰于石桥栏杆顶端。被雕成桥柱、建筑上滴水的兽形,是古桥的守护神。Gong Fu likes water, so he is always carved on the top of the balustrades of the bridge.
  3. 饕餮(tāo tiè),其形状如羊身人面,其目在腋下,虎齿人爪,其音如婴儿。贪吃,贪婪。常出现在作为祭器的青铜器上,青铜时代后逐渐消失。Tao tie has a sheep body and a face like human being, the eyes are under his arms, has teethes like the tiger’s teeth, paws like human being’s hands, voice sounds like a child. Greedy. Usually appears on the bronze sacrificial utensils, but disappeared after the Bronze Age.

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