The Legend of the Four Dragons
Once upon a time, there were no rivers and lakes on earth, but only the Sea, in which lived four dragons, Long Dragon, Yellow Dragon, Black Dragon and Pearl Dragon. One day the four dragons flew from the sea and soared and dived in the sky.
On the earth they saw many people putting out fruits and cakes, and burning incense sticks. They were praying “Please send rain quickly, to give our children rice to eat.” “How poor the people are!’ said Yellow Dragon. Long Dragon nodded and suggested, “Let us go and beg the Jade Emperor for rain.” They all agreed and flew to the Heavenly Palace.
Being in charge of all the affairs in heaven, on earth and in the sea, the Jade Emperor was very powerful. He was not pleased to see the dragons rushing in. “Why do you come here instead of staying in the sea and behaving yourselves?” The Black Dragon stepped forward and said, “The crops on earth are withering and dying, Your Majesty. Please send rain down quickly!” “OK, I will send some rain down tomorrow.” The Jade Emperor pretended to agree while listening to heavenly songs.
But ten days passed, and not a drop of rain came down and the people suffered more. Seeing all this, the four dragons felt very sorry, for they knew the Jade Emperor only cared about pleasure, and never took the people to heart. Seeing the vast sea, the Long Dragon said that he had an idea. “Look, is there not plenty of water in the sea where we live? We should scoop it up and spray it towards the sky. The water will be like rain drops and come down to save the people and their crops.”
They flew to the sea, scooped up water in their mouths, and then flew back into the sky, where they sprayed the water out over the earth. The four dragons flew back and forth, making the sky dark all around. Before long the rain poured down from the sky. “It's raining! The crops will be saved!” The people cried and leaped with joy.
The God of the Sea discovered these events and reported to the Jade Emperor. “How dare the four dragons bring rain without my permission!” Enraged he ordered the Mountain God to “Go and place four mountains upon them so that they can never escape!” The Mountain God used his power to make four mountains land upon the four dragons.
Imprisoned as they were, they never regretted their actions. Determined to do good for the people forever, they turned themselves into four rivers, which flowed past high mountains and deep valleys, crossing the land from the west to the east and finally emptying into the sea. And so, China's four great rivers were formed, the Heilongjian (Black Dragon) in north China, the Huanghe (Yellow River) in central China, the Changjiang (Yangtze, or Long River) farther south, and the Zhujiang (Pearl) in the far south.
Still today, across all continents, the four dragons story lives on strong. The kindness and unselfish actions of the four dragons are celebrated in gratitude by racing dragon boats on rivers and lakes; thus making dragon boat racing the largest mass participation water sport in the world.
Have fun and celebrate the four dragons with us!