Dragon on its way to extinction

By Guo Qiang (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2006-12-04 17:40

China is changing fast and its totem dragon is no exception.

China's long- acknowledged totem dragon is likely to die out with experts on English teaching believing the icon invites misunderstanding and demonizes the country in which people are called 'descendents of the dragon', the Beijing Legal Times reported on December 4.

The dragon is based on a 7,000-year-old Chinese legend, and is a combination of a horse's head, a snake's body and chook's claws. It represented the emperor's power during the years of China's feudal system and it is also a symbol of auspiciousness and wealth among the people. In Western culture, the dragon developed a very different persona. Unlike eastern dragons, western dragons breathe fire, and swing their tails about.

Wu Youfu, an expert from the Shanghai International Studies University said people in Western countries believe the icon symbolizes power and abundant aggression.

"Dragon-related icons easily induce misunderstanding and distortion," said Wu.

Wu is heading a program that aims to create a new national icon to represent China to the outside world, the paper reported.

Wu said the new icon should include features of different times, races and cultures. "We should dig out positive elements from China's traditional culture," he said.

According to the paper, if a new national icon is created, the 7,000-year-old dragon image is likely to be replaced.

But the move is far from being accepted by Chinese people who have the image of the dragon deeply rooted in their hearts.

The animal should be translated into another English word instead of being replaced, comments on sina.com said.

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