Emperor’s Symbol

We now think that the dragon idea may have been inspired by the giant Yangzi alligator, or earth dragon which lives in the lower Yangzi River and can grow to a length of nearly 2 meters 6 feet. The alligator is sensitive to changes in air pressure and appears to know when rain is coming.


Chinese children were told that when the Yellow Emperor died, he became a dragon and flew into Heaven. From then on, the yellow dragon with five claws on each foot became a symbol of imperial power. The Emperor’s throne was called the Dragon Throne and his robe the Dragon Robe. Only the Emperor was allowed to wear clothes embroidered with a yellow dragon. In ancient times, any person who dared to wear such robes without permission was suspected of treason and might even be executed.

This is an excerpt taken from “China Land of Dragons and Emperors” by Adeline Yen Mah. This book is available as a free PDF download when you subscribe to Adeline Yen Mah’s free Chinese Character A Day Chinese Language and History Lessons. To do so, you may click here.