Showing posts tagged dragon

The Dragon Bird Korra Befriends is Neither a Phoenix nor a Dragon.

It is , as it’s name says, a combination of both. 

Can I have one?

As I pointed out in the pictures, the Dragon Bird has features of both Dragon and Phoenix.

Dragons have:

The horns of a deer.

The head of a crocodile.

A demon’s eyes.

The neck of a snake.

hawk's claws.

The palms of a tiger.

A cow’s ears. 

A Phoenix has


the beak of a rooster,

the face of a swallow,

the forehead of a fowl,

the neck of a snake,

the breast of a goose,

the back of a tortoise,

the hindquarters of a stag and the tail of a fish.



the head of a golden pheasant,

the body of a mandarin duck,

the tail of a peacock,

the legs of a crane,

the mouth of a parrot,

and the wings of a swallow.

Image source: One

Phoenix Queen King Ozai

Ozai declaring himself ‘Phoenix King’ is supposed to show how far around the bent Ozai has gone. And my it is far. 

But if you view it in-universe (the show is set in a sino-centric universe) it becomes even weirder. 

Let me explain:

The phoenix is the embodiment of female power i.e. the Empress; not male i.e. the Emperor. That would be the dragon.

The phoenix represents yin, the dragon yang. 

So Phoenix King is kinda an oxymoron. 

What he did is either declaring that he now is Emperor and Empress in one person. Ozai is taking on the yin part of the yin and yang, on top of the yang of ‘king’. He is now, by declaring himself phoenix and dragon, ‘complete’. Or, and I am not going down that creepy road, one could argue that by making Azula Fire Lord, he is making her the dragon/husband. 

Anyway …

Now I understand that they wanted to run with the ‘reborn from ashes’ aspect, but it makes Ozai, in cultural and show context, sound even more insane than he is. 

On a side note: There is a real phoenix crown, traditionally worn by the Empress (compare picture), and there are even similarities between Ozai’s helmet/crown and the real thing e.g. the wings on the sides. 

 Image source: One, two

The phoenix, in Chinese mythology and tradition, has symbolized the Empress and the yin force since the Yuan Dynasty. 

In ancient and modern Chinese culture, they can often be found in the decorations for weddings or royalty, along with dragons. This is because the Chinese considered the dragon and phoenix symbolic of blissful relations between husband and wife, another common yin and yang (Yin is female and yang is male.) metaphor.

If you want to know the myth behind the dragon and the phoenix go here: 

How Phoenixes and Dragon came to be paired together.

Blue Dragon - Red Dragon: The meaning of color

Traditional Chinese art views red, black, blue-green, yellow and white as the base colors. Each color corresponds with an element (note: NOT the Greek elements) Water, fire, wood, metal and earth. In the past the Theory of the Five Elements was used to select colors. More.

The Red Dragon

Red is the color of prosperity, good fortune and happiness. Red dragons are associated with luck, fire and passion. Red dragons are the dragons of summer and the South. Red also stands for happiness. 

 The Blue Dragon

Blue/Green is the color of nature, serenity and growth. Blue dragons are the dragons of spring and the East. Blue also symbolizes immortality. 

Note: Blue and Green are seen as the same color, not the same shade.

Now, why is Azula a blue/green dragon in Zuko’s dream?  It’s a pun. Again :P Take a look at the table: Green - East - Azure Dragon

Image source: One

A:TLA Annotated! Now on Twitter!

The Dragon Mural in the Sun Warrior Temple and the Nine Dragon Wall

The mural you see in the Sun Warrior temple when Aang and Zuko climb the stairs, is based on the Nine Dragon Wall. 

Compare the placement of the dragons, the placement of the flaming pearl vs the circles of flames and the way the waves and flames are stylized. 

This similarity leads to an interesting question: Does the mural also depict nine dragons? Are we only shown one small piece of the whole mural? 

Image source: One two

The Dragon will Hatch on the Next Solstice

Remember Avatar Roku’s temple in Season one, how the sun hit the statue on the Winter Solstice? Now compare the floor pattern and the door/sun opening mechanism in the Sun Warrior temple. They match.

On the Sun Warriors’ island Zuko tricks the door into opening, it was not yet time for it to do so. When Zuko and Aang do the dragon dance/imitate the ceremony, the egg rises, but since they’re too early, it does not hatch.

What this implies is: On the next solstice, when the sun hits the red gem and opens the door, the sun warriors will gather for the ceremonial dance. The egg will rise from the floor and the dragon will hatch.

dragon dance - dragon egg - dragon hatching

Here be Dragons Instead of Snakes

Love little details like this, how ATLA design always went that one extra step that makes the show so awesome.

Just look at how the Mayan snake god Kukulkan*, shadowy body winding up the pyramid during the Equinox, becomes a dragon to fit the universe but also the setting they picked for the Sun Warriors. 

*related to the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl

Image source: One, two

The Banner Shows a Stylized Dragon Motif

There are many stylized dragon motifs in ATLA, e.g. Toph’s parents decorate their home with them. Many of them remind me of Shang and Zhou Dynasty Taotie:

A taotie is a motif commonly found on Chinese ritual bronze vessels from the Shang and Zhou Dynasty. The design typically consists of a zoomorphic mask, described as being frontal, bilaterally symmetrical, with a pair of raised eyes and typically no lower jaw area.

I personally am a big fan of that style, check out these amazing bronzes: Click me!

Image source: One, two

Fang is a Chinese Dragon (as are Ran and Shao)

How to build a dragon:

The horns of a deer.

The head of a camel.

A demon’s eyes.

The neck of a snake.

A tortoise’s viscera.

A hawk’s claws.

The palms of a tiger.

A cow’s ears.”

Shake well before use!

Note: Imperial dragon have FIVE claws, lesser dragons only three or four.

Other recipes include:

belly of a clam

scales of a carp,

wings of a bat,

and claws those of an eagle 

What’s different?

Chinese dragons are associated with water, not fire:

Initially, the dragon was benevolent but the Buddhists introduced the concept of malevolent influence among some dragons. Just as water destroys, they said, so can some dragons destroy via floods, tidal waves and storms. They suggested that some of the worst floods were believed to have been the result of a mortal upsetting a dragon.

Chinese dragons are occasionally depicted with bat-like wings growing out of the front limbs, but most do not have wings, as their ability to fly (and control rain/water, etc.) are mystical and not seen as a result of their physical attributes.