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[Tidbits] The Dragon and the Pig-Dragon

Is it a pig or is it a dragon? Is it a pendant or is it a bracelet?
Is it a beauty or is it a beast? These are the questions that plague
this soul. Which to show? This or that? Frick or Frack? Celui-ci or
celui-l? What? Did you say both? Bothe? Well then by George…

So here’s the thing of it. There’s dark green jade and there’s
green-white jade. And there are dragons and there are pig-dragons.
Odd, you say? Yes. Well. Never-the-less… there it is. A dragon of a
different type… and color I might add.

Now then… shall we step-by-step this? Anyone care to dance with the
Tidbits man?

The material of boundless prestige in Chinese culture for thousands
of years was “Yu”–Chinese for Jade. The reverence given to this
metamorphic rock dates back to the latter part of the Neolithic
period. It was at this time that it became one of the symbols of
religion, political, and magico-religious powers. It was the
intercessor between heaven and earth. The word Yu… for those of You
who are interested… refers to two minerals with similar appearance
but different chemical make-up. Re: Nephrite and Jadeite.

As an element of curiosity to titillate the senses… Nephrite–a
word used in the West–is derived from the belief that this
semi-precious stone was a remedy for kidney disorders. Hah! Talk
about co-incidence… never mind etymological possibilities. To carry
this a tad further … the Spaniards who first imported these stones
to Europe… called them “piedra de los ri=F1ones” aka “stone of the

Which brings us by a slow circuitous route to dragons and
pig-dragons. Even I have no idea how I got here. You all know what
dragons are… so I will stay with pig-dragons for now. These
creatures are zoomorphic forms. They have a pig-like head and an
elongated limbless body. The early versions were thick and stubby…
not unlike the one I am about to show you. They were often featured
as grave goods… usually with some ritual significance. Pig bones
were often found in graves… though I am not sure if this was
religious in significance… or merely an effort to satisfy
after-life hunger. After all… just because you’ve kicked the
bucket… it doesn’t mean you’ve lost your appetite. Nothing like a
slab of bacon before meeting your maker.

Then there is the speculation that the pig dragon is the first
representation of the regular everyday Chinese dragon as we know it.
The character for “dragon” in the earliest Chinese writing has a
similar coiled form… which is why I am presenting an image of both
for your viewing pleasure. One is a bit more appetizingly plump as
befits its nature and is made of green-white jade. The other is a bit
of a skinny-malink… a svelte pendant to attract even the most
discriminating senses.

So… the time has come the dragon said, to speak of many things…
Go. Look. One is snoutfull and one is snoutless. Let me know if you
can tell which is which.

For those of you who are new to this thing called Tidbits…may I
direct you to my home page at where you
will scroll down the left side menu till you get to the area that
says Current Tidbits… click it… and you will see represented on
our pages an image of a dragon and a pig-dragon.

And there ya have it. That’s it for this week folks. Catch you all
next week.

Benjamin Mark