zw3.07: pulchritudinous pandas

Intrepid journalist Hank Talbot continues his exposé of the disturbing political agenda behind the zoo world facebook propaganda blitz.

As much as I enjoy writing about bare-breasted females, it’s time we move on from the fenghuang. Our bare-breasted female is, of course, the conterpart to the chinese dragon—the yin to his yang.

pulchritudinous pandas

how to sustain your dragon

part 7

As much as I enjoy writing about bare-breasted females, it’s time we move on from the fenghuang. Our bare-breasted female is, of course, the conterpart to the chinese dragon—the yin to his yang. Not unlike the cross-cultural confusion with the whole “supreme ultimate” thing, there is a decided East/West split regarding dragonkin. Wikipedia puts it plainly:

In contrast to European dragons that are considered evil, Chinese dragons traditionally symbolize potent and auspicious powers, particularly control over water, rainfall, and floods.

Perhaps the product of my perpetual partiality to pith, I prefer the BBC’s comparison:

Chinese dragons are supernatural symbols without the Western traits of aggression or maiden-eating.

I will refrain from making tasteless jokes about maiden-eating.

Instead, I’ve put together a few examples of the kind of dragon you tend to find in western culture:

nine dragons from the west (diagram zw3.07a)


Book of Job

5th cent. B.C.


dragon guarding the golden fleece


3rd cent. B.C.

Apollonius of Rhodes

beowulf and the dragon


8th – 11th cent.

Angelina Jolie

saint george and the dragon

The Golden Legend

c. 1260

Jacobus de Voragine

the jabberwocky

Through the Looking Glass


Lewis Caroll


Der Ring des Nibelungen


Richard Wagner


The Hobbit


J.R.R. Tolkien


Sleeping Beauty



vermithrax pejorative




This is, of course, but a small sample of western dragon depictions; if you like, here is a more exhausting list of dragons in literature.

These nine western dragons are certainly villainous creatures—most unlike their chinese counterparts. Consider these noble chinese dragons: the famous sinodraconic nonet from the Nine Dragons Handscroll (painted by Chen Rong in AD 1244). For convenience, I’ve numbered the dragons and highlighted their locations on the scroll. Click the thumbnails on the left to view each dragon; click the scroll on the right to view the full scroll—jpg dimensions are 8978w x 462h, but the actual handscroll is about 19 inches tall x 49 feet long(!).

nine dragons from the east (diagram zw3.07b)

no. 9

no. 8

no. 7

no. 6

no. 5

no. 4

no. 3

no. 2

no. 1

I’m not really sure those two diagrams were necessary. After investing far too much time in assembling them, however, I simply had to include them. Hopefully they help underscore the east/west split regarding the nature of the dragon.

number nine

The Nine Dragons handscroll contains, not surprisingly, nine dragons. For every yin there is a yang; hence my list of western dragons was limited to nine. While the latter phenomenon was more or less the result of good taste in journalism, the former was simply Chen Rong doing it right.

In Chinese culture, the number nine has special significance:

The number Nine […] being the greatest of single-digit numbers, was historically associated with the Emperor of China . . . Moreover, the number 9 is a homophone of the word for “longlasting” […] and as such is often used in weddings.

imperial coat of arms (qing dynasty)

Note the use of the number nine in weddings, ceremonies that unite a yin and a yang—the law of the unity of opposites. The “longlasting” meaning for the number nine, combined with its superiority over all other single-digit numbers, make it an appropriate number to associate with the emperor . . . and with dragons. Chinese dragons had the same qualities of superiority and longlasticity; so it should come as no surprise that the dragon was the official symbol of the emperor of china. The wikipedia article on chinese dragons details some of the connections shared by dragon, emperor, and the greatest of all single digits:

The number nine is special in China as it is the largest possible single digit, and Chinese dragons are frequently connected with it. . . . As nine was considered the number of the emperor, only the most senior officials were allowed to wear nine dragons on their robes – and then only with the robe completely covered with surcoats. Lower-ranking officials had eight or five dragons on their robes, again covered with surcoats; even the emperor himself wore his dragon robe with one of its nine dragons hidden from view.


There hasn’t been an emperor in china since poor little Puyi abdicated in 1912. Since he was only six years old at the time (and only ruled for four years), he might not be the best representative of the superior and the longlasting. If you take the chinese empire as a whole, however, the relationship between emperor and dragon lasted for over two thousand years (221 BC – 1912 AD). I’d call that rather longlived.

draconic symbolism (diagram zw3.07c)

emperor of china

dragon of china

While I would love to call part seven the final installment on pulchritudinous pandas, I’m sure that you, dear reader, have noticed that pandas have yet to really enter the picture. This post is long enough as it is, and I want to leave enough time to adequately cover the topic of panda porn. I’ll have to save that, and the conclusion of zw3, for part eight.

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