Glazed Tile Chinese Dragon Art
from a Nine-Dragon Screen

Dragons are such a part of Chinese culture it is not surprising that Chinese dragon art appears in many places, even in modern China. One wonderful example of the tradition is the nine-dragon screen. This type of screen was introduced on a previous page of this website. Here you see some close-up pictures of dragons that appear on the nine-dragon screen in Beihai Park, Beijing.

On any nine-dragon screen there are nine large dragons and a number of smaller ones. This screen is double-sided so there are nine large dragons on each side, making up 18 of the total 635 in this example of Chinese dragon art.

Nine-dragon screen in Beijing

The dragons are coloured yellow, purple, white, and blue. The yellow may look like gold in this photograph, and it does on the screen too, but yellow is the colour of the emperor in Chinese culture. Above you see a yellow dragon beside a purple dragon.

Beihai Park coloured dragons

Here a white dragon and a blue dragon comese in the waves for what looks like a shell.

Yellow Dragon

Continuing left to right across the this Chinese dragon art screen, we come to the central yellow dragon and the blue dragon beside it. Notice that the head of the yellow dragon has long horns that stick out from the wall. All the other dragon heads are shown side-on, but this central one is different.

Glazed tile 3-D dragon

Here is a different angle on the central yellow Chinese dragon so you can see how 3-dimensional it is. I couldn't measure it, but I'd bet it sticks out at least 20 cm from the plane of the screen.

White dragon Purple dragon

Continuing past the blue dragon we come to white and purple dragons again.

In Chinese cosmology, purple is a symbol of the pole star as well as joy and happiness. The colour purple was in some ways reserved for the emperor; for example, only he was allowed to sign his name in purple or "vermilion" ink. (The shade of purple in the dragon above is different from real vermilion though - vermilion looks more like the deep red you see on the walls of the Forbidden City.)

Nine dragon screen righthand side

The yellow dragon on the right side of the screen is not paired off with another like the other dragons are.

Nine dragon Chinese art

Here you see the whole effect. Again, notice the central yellow dragon and how far his head sticks out from the screen.

Chinese dragon art

Here's another picture of the central yellow dragon and blue dragon fighting...

Yellow and purple dragons in Chinese art

... and for comparison here's a left yellow dragon fighting against a purple dragon.

Three colored dragons

This example of Chinese dragon art is over 25 metres long, so it is hard to get a sense of its beauty and size from photos. Above you see three of the dragons and a couple of appreciative Chinese tourists.

Complete nine-dragon wall in Beijing

The complete wall is shown in this photograph, stitched together from two photos and photoshopped to appear flat. In Beihai Park, trees get in the way so you can't actually get far enough from this nine-dragon screen to get a single really good picture.

All-in-all, the artwork of the Chinese nine-dragon screen is impressive. Chinese dragon art has been created throughout Chinese history and this is one of the best examples you could see anywhere. To learn more about nine-dragon screens and see more of this one, click here.