The dragon is a fabulous and universal symbolic figure found in most cultures thought the world. The early Chinese believed in four magical, spiritual and benevolent animals; the Phoenix, the Tortoise and the Unicorn and the Dragon, the most revered of all. Many legends say dragons were fabulous animals usually represented as a monstrous winged and scaly serpent or saurian with a crested head and enormous claws represented usually as a gigantic reptile breathing fire and having a lion's claws, the tail of a serpent, wings and scaly skin. Mythology about dragons appear in the traditions of virtually all peoples back to the beginning of time - though dragons appeared in various forms. Dragons have been an integral part of the culture of the Chinese, Koreans and Japanese peoples since the beginning of recorded history. In China they are used to mark the stairways over which only the Emperor could be carried. In Japan they are used in Buddhist temples both as decoration and as fountain heads for purification before worship. In many cases the dragon is combined with the phoenix to symbolize long life and prosperity. It is also combined with the tiger to represent heaven and earth or Yin and Yang.
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Today’s Best March 27, 2012