Tag Archives: Dragon

Taiwanese festival: Dragon Boat Festival

Nationality: Taiwanese
Primary Language: Taiwanese, Mandarin
Age: 46
Occupation: Branch Manager
Residence: Taipei, Taiwan
Performance Date: 19 April 2024

Tags: Taiwan, dragon, boat, rice cakes, summer


The Dragonboat Festival is a holiday that happens on the fifth day of the fifth month in the Lunar Calendar, which equates to around the summer solstice for non-Lunar calendars. The story behind it is that there once was a wise advisor who failed to convince his king that a great enemy would destroy their land, causing him to commit suicide by drowning himself in a river. The people were so saddened by his death that they made rice dumplings wrapped in leaves called ‘Zong Zi’ and threw them in the river to let the fish eat those instead of the advisor’s dead body. Nowadays, we eat ‘Zong Zi’ to remember him, and to celebrate the summer festivities. The epynomous dragonboat races take place around the rivers, and since it’s around the time of the summer solstice, the earth’s position is at the perfect place to allow eggs to stand up on their own when placed on a flat surface, so people often go to their homes or outside and attempt it.


C was born and raised in Taiwan, and has traveled the world various times due to her work and studies. She regularly participates in Taiwanese and Asian festivities with friends and family. She has been said to be quite good at the egg-standing activity during the Dragonboat festivals, and has participated in a smaller version of the dragonboat races.


Interestingly enough, even though the festival is named the ‘Dragonboat Festival’, the origin didn’t actually start with dragonboats or races, though I suppose it would be weirder to call it the ‘Rice Dumpling festival’. The mandarin name of the festival is ‘Duan Wu Jie’, literally “dual five festival”, but perhaps the name wouldn’t make sense in english due to the different ways of tracking time. This is an example of how globalization makes its way into tradition and festival, giving new names and meaning to already-existing festivities.

Nga Ka Pwe Taung (Dragon’s Lake)

Nationality: Burmese

Primary Language: Burmese

Other Language(s): English, Chinese

Age: 19

Occupation: Student

Residence: Hanover, N.H

Performance Date: 03/17/2024

P.P has been my friend since middle school and is also a Burmese person who is originally from Yangon, Myanmar. When I asked her of any legends, myths or tales she knows of, she recounts a myth that she learned of when traveling with her family and friends. Her family went on regular trips along with other family friends, to different places all over Myanmar. This included a lot of superstitious tourist spots. 

“I went to the Nga Ka Pwe Taung, also known as Dragon’s Lake, at Min Bu. This was when I was in middle school and me and my family visited a lot of these mythical places. This place has bubbling pools on top of four weirdly shaped mounds. The people at the village said that place is called a Dragon’s lake because it is where a dragon died with his significant other. They say that the pool keeps bubbling almost like an active volcano but doesn’t erupt, because the dragon’s love for his partner was so passionate. I think the tourist guides made this story up to attract more visitors but nonetheless it was still a fun place to visit.”

The myth of the Dragon’s Lake was probably made to explain a natural phenomenon like the bubbling pools that don’t erupt, since people who don’t understand the scientific reasons for that, might want an explanation. Since people at Min Bu are also really religious, this story would be a great “explanation” and also serves to reinforce their existing beliefs in mythical beings like dragons. It also shows that dragons are capable of enduring love, adding another layer to why the creature should be worshiped / respected.

Legend: Chinese Jade Dragon

My informant for this one was my mom. I asked her if she had any interesting stories on folk narratives and she brought up the legend of the Chinese Jade Dragon. She talked about how in Chinese culture, dragons represent strength and good luck, and jade represents wisdom, courage, and beauty. Together, a jade dragon is a symbol of good fortune. She mentioned how many shops would have a jade dragon placed inside to attract good business and prosperity. She said that she had gotten one for our home for my health because I had asthma and a bad dust allergy as a kid, and the pollution in China gave me really bad allergic reactions, causing my face to swell up, and I would have trouble breathing probably.

For as long as I can remember, my family has always had the same jade dragon in our living room as our good luck charm and protector of the house. It’s a family tradition to rub the dragon’s head or back for good luck. After we moved from China to Canada, my mom made sure to have our jade dragon shipped over to our new home. I practically grew up with that dragon, it’s been with me for most of my life and it has been very loved and well taken care of by my family. In a sense, the dragon has fulfilled its duties because after we moved to Canada, I no longer had asthma, and my dust allergy became much more manageable. Moving out of China was the best thing that could have ever happened to me and I’m really fortunate to have been given that chance.

tattoo as taboolistic Sign: dragon on shoulder


“You should not tattoo a dragon on your shoulder because you cannot burden its weight. Eventually it will kill you.”

“The way to eliminate the effect of the dragon on he should is to tattoo a Nezha, or 哪吒 on you. Because Nezha can defeat the dragon, so that will keep you safe.”


My informant is a student at USC. Here is his intepretation of this piece.
“How I take this(tattoo) is like, you are putting a figure onto your body, then it really is on your body. And if you tattoo a dragon on your shoulder, there is a real dragon on your shoulder and you cannot possibly bear it.”


To provide some background, Nezha, or 哪吒 is a mythic figure in Chinese mythology. Nezha is a child that had a pregnancy of 3 years. He had the power to fight the dragon prince in the east sea of China. Eventually, he killed one of the dragon princes. Thus, in the case of the tattoo, putting Nezha as one of the tattoos by the dragon on the shoulder would serve as a suppressor of the dragon.

A tattoo is a sign. A dragon tattoo is a sign that one cannot bear on one’s shoulder. Fortunately, there is a remedy for those who had tattooed dragons on their shoulder without knowing the consequence. This remedy is the conversion of superstitious belief. However, this conversion is no less superstitious.

My informants’ analysis of the piece shows an interesting connection to the folk belief in magic. This tattoo is both contagious and homeopathic under his analysis. It is contagious because tattoo happens on one’s body. It is homeopathic that the tattoo dragon actually becomes a real dragon that kills people, and Nezha actually becomes real and kills the dragon. It’s fascinating isn’t it?

Polish Dragon

Context: Poland has many mythical beasts in its folklore, however, very prominently featured are its dragons. Poland’s dragons are very big beasts, which are fearsome but not very smart. Mostly villainous in nature, the dragon must be defeated by a Polish hero, oftentimes through outwitting the dragon, rather than use of physical force. Wawel is a Polish castle, which is made of stone and stands on an outcrop on the left bank of a Polish river.

Informant: “The Wawel dragon in Poland. So my mom told us this story growing up and she told us the kid friendly version but its this legend about this dragon that was terrorizing this town and eating the livestock and knights tried and tried to kill it but no one could until this young boy, i think his name was Skuba or something, took a dead sheep and stuffed his stomach full of hot hot pepper and when the dragon ate it, it was so spicy that he breathed fire and went to drink from the river and then either died or flew away idk but Skuba saved the day and theres a statue in Krakow of him about that story.”

Background Knowledge: The informant’s mother lived in Poland for most of her life, and only moved to the United States a few years before Informant’s birth. Despite not knowing the language, and being mostly ingrained in American culture, the Informant tries to keep in touch with their Polish heritage. The informant remembers this story from their childhood, as a story their mother told them. It is, I believe, a very old Polish story. The informant does not speak more than basic conversational Polish, and did not hear the story in its original Polish language. However, the informant has visited Poland a few times, and has much Polish influence from their mother. Informant is proud of their Polish heritage, and spoke of this story with fondness.

Thoughts: I wonder if the story of the Wawel dragon came before or after the building of Wawel castle. It’s interesting to see how these Polish stories have come to emigrated to America along with its people. Despite being based on/being the inspiration for the wawel castle, the story of the wawel dragon leaves its castle, and travels to America without it. It’s interesting that the story can outgrow the location which it is originated from, even when the location is so inherent to it.