The Azure Dragon or Seiryuu (traditional Chinese: 青龍; simplified Chinese: 青龙; pinyin: Qīng Lóng) is one of the Four Symbols of the Chinese constellations and one of the four guardian spirits of Japanese cities.
It is sometimes called the Azure Dragon of the East (traditional Chinese: 東方青龍; simplified Chinese: 东方青龙; pinyin: Dōng Fāng Qīng Lóng), and it represents the east and the spring season. It should not be confused with the mythological yellow dragon that is associated with the Emperor of China.
The Seven Mansions of the Azure Dragon
Like the other Four Symbols, the Azure Dragon corresponds to seven "mansions", or positions, of the moon.
* Horn (Chinese: 角; pinyin: Jiăo) * Neck (Chinese: 亢; pinyin: Kàng) * Root (Chinese: 氐; pinyin: Dĭ) * Room (Chinese: 房; pinyin: Fáng) * Heart (Chinese: 心; pinyin: Xīn) * Tail (Chinese: 尾; pinyin: Wěi) * Winnowing Basket (Chinese: 箕; pinyin: Jī)
Azure Dragon in different languages
The Chinese constellations were not only used by Chinese cartographers, they were also used by Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese cartographers as well.
- Standard Mandarin: Qīng Lóng / 青龍
- Japanese: Seiryū
- Korean: Cheong-ryong / 청룡
- Vietnamese: Thanh Long / 青龍
In Book of Tang, the reincarnation of White Tiger 's Star is said to be Li Shimin's general Luo Cheng (羅 成) and the reincarnation of Azure Dragon 's Star is said to be the rebellious general Shan Xiongxin (單 雄信). They two are sworn brothers of Qin Shubao (秦 叔寶), Cheng Zhijie (程 知節) and Yuchi Jingde (尉遲 敬德). Their souls after death are said to possess the body of the new heroes of Tang Dynasty and Liao Dynasty, Xue Rengui (薛 仁貴) and He Suwen (郃 苏文).
In some legends of the Tang Dynasty's general Xue Rengui, he's said the reincarnation of the White Tiger's Star. And his archenemy, Liao Dynasty's prince He Suwen is the reincarnation of the Azure Dragon's Star.
In Japan, the Azure Dragon (Seiryuu) is one of the four guardian spirits of cities and is said to protect the city of Kyoto on the east. The west is protected by the White Tiger, the north is protected by the Black Tortoise, and the south is protected by the Vermilion Bird.
In Kyoto there are temples dedicated to each of these guardian spirits. The Azure Dragon is represented in the Kiyomizu Temple in eastern Kyoto. Before the entrance of the temple there is a statue of the dragon which is said to drink from the waterfall within the temple complex at nighttime. Therefore each year a ceremony is held to worship the dragon of the east.
In 1983, the Kitora Tomb was found in the village of Asuka. All four guardians were painted on the walls (in the corresponding directions) and a system of the constellations was painted on the ceiling. This is one of the only ancient records of the four guardians.