The Dragon’s Pearl

Wyrmflight

In pictures of Asian dragons, you often see the dragon holding or chasing after a round object covered in flames. Is this some strange draconic sport? Not at all.

From ancient times, dragons in Asia were associated with nature and particularly the weather. In the oldest depictions, the dragon is holding the sun — a red, flaming ball. As time passed, artists started to show the sun as white rather than red, which is actually more accurate if you’ve ever looked at the sun. (But don’t look too long; you can damage your vision.) Legend then said that the dragon was seeking the Night Shining Pearl. This pearl is what we see most often in Asian art.

The pearl itself has strong meaning in Asian folklore. Both Taoism and Buddhism use pearls as symbols of wisdom or enlightenment. Buddhism particularly depicts the pearl in the center of a lotus blossom as…

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