YingLong/應龍: The Mythical Dragon Deity of Ancient China

yinglong/gengchen/应龙/應龍/庚辰:  a winged dragon and rain deity in ancient Chinese mythology

Yinglong/應龍, also known as Huanglong (Yellow Dragon/黄龙), Feilong (Flying Dragon/飞龙), or Gengchen, is a deity in ancient Chinese mythology that embodies the roles of creator, destroyer, and preserver. Yinglong also appears as a war god and was a great general serving under the Yellow Emperor.

Yinglong is associated with the central position among the Five Directions, representing the essence of the Central Seven Mansions. It is associated with the Earth element and is considered the god of clouds, rain, thunder, and rivers. Yinglong is also revered as a celestial dragon, the consort of the heavenly deity Taiyi, known as the dragon that responds to celestial commands and assists in governing the realm.

Legends of Yinglong

Yinglong resided in the northeast, at the Xiong Li Tu Qiu mountain. He defeated Chi You and Kuafu, unable to ascend to heaven afterwards, thus leading to droughts. Only by adopting Yinglong’s form could rain be summoned.

《山海经 · 大荒东经》


After defeating Chi You and Kuafu, Yinglong was sent to the south, resulting in heavy rains in that region.

Chi You waged war against the Yellow Emperor, who then commanded Yinglong to attack in Ji Zhou’s fields. Yinglong summoned water, and despite Chi You’s plea to the Wind Lord and Rain Master for a great storm, the Yellow Emperor’s intervention with Tian Nu (Heavenly Maiden) stopped the rain, leading to Chi You’s defeat.

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The Yellow Emperor ordered Yinglong to battle Chi You, where Yinglong exhibited the strength of four beasts – the tiger, leopard, bear, and ifco.



Origins of Yinglong

In on opinion, Yinglong is believed to be the offspring of Mao Du/毛犊 (a mythical beast) and Yu Jia/羽嘉(a mythical dragon).

Mao Du is the ancestor of Yinglong, Yinglong is the ancestor of Jian Ma, Jian Ma is the ancestor of Qilin, and Qilin is the ancestor of all furred beasts. Thus, Mao Du is considered the progenitor of all wild beasts with fur, resembling Yinglong but with longer fur. Yu Jia is the ancestor of the flying dragon, which is the ancestor of the phoenix. The phoenix then gave birth to the luan bird, the ancestor of all feathered birds. Yinglong is the offspring of Mao Du and Yu Jia, inheriting Mao Du’s appearance and resembling a dragon more closely.





In another opinion, It’s believed that after 500 years, a Hui/虺 (a kind of snake) transforms into a Jiao (lesser dragon), and after a thousand years, into a dragon. After another 500 years, the dragon becomes a Jiao Long (horned dragon), and after a thousand years, it turns into Yinglong.

Hui is described as a venomous snake living in water, with a large head and slender neck.





Image of Yinglong

Yinglong is often depicted as a dragon with a coiled or serpentine body and wings, symbolizing the fusion of dragon and phoenix totems.

Dragons with scales are called Jiao Long, with wings are called Yinglong, with horns are called Qiu Long, and without horns are called Chi Long.



Yinglong patterns, depicting winged dragons, were popular during the Ming dynasty and appeared on various artifacts like bronze ware, jade carvings, and silk paintings. The earliest Yinglong artifacts, dating back 7400 years, were discovered in Inner Mongolia.

Abilities of Yinglong

Yinglong had the power to control the weather, regulate rainfall, and alleviate floods. It could also open up mountains and rivers. Known for defeating Chi You and Kuafu, Yinglong had the ability to stir oceans, create clouds, and change its form and size. It was revered in folk beliefs as a guardian of agriculture and water management, ensuring peace and prosperity.

As Yinglong soars, clouds and mist rise tumultuously in its wake. The wind howls fiercely, resonating unbidden through the vast sky, moving all things naturally as it passes.






The Yinglong is revered for its ability to contract and expand, and the Phoenix is esteemed for its auspicious call. Why then must they hide their form beyond the heavens or conceal their scales in the deep abyss?



When Yu controlled the waters, Yinglong used its tail to draw on the earth, guiding the paths for the waters to flow.



“Auspicious horses open vistas, bringing glory to future generations; Yinglong breaks the ground, providing land for homes in distant years.



Remnants of Yinglong

In the Tang Dynasty, an “Yinglong City” was established in the Western Sea. In Qinghai Province, on the Heart Mountain of Qinghai Lake, the ancient site of Yinglong City from the Tang era still exists and was designated a provincial-level cultural heritage site in 1988.

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