Dragon and Tiger Pagodas
Before you read the article, let’s test your knowledge about the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas shall we?
- When visiting the Dragon and Tiger pagodas, you should: (Attention: Choose the answer wisely if you want to increase your good fortune and get rid of your bad luck. Choosing the wrong answer might do the opposite.)
- Enter through the dragon’s mouth and exit from the tiger’s mouth.
- Enter through the tiger’s mouth and exit from the dragon’s mouth.
- I can enter and exit from whichever mouth I want to. What a silly question!
- No idea.
- During the Chinese dynasty era, which animal serves as a symbol of emperors:
- Both dragon and tiger
- Neither dragon nor tiger
- Why do the Dragon and Tiger pagodas have seven levels?
- Because the government regulation limits the height of pagodas to seven levels.
- Because the temple only had budget for seven-storey towers at that time.
- Because the seven-story pagodas stand for the seven treasures of Buddhism.
- None of above.
The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas was built 1976, and belonged to the temple CiJi Palace, located right in front of the pagodas, opposite the street. The two pagodas are connected and both have seven floors. The seven levels of each pagoda represent the seven treasures of Buddhism (this answers the 3rd question) – gold, silver, aquamarine, crystal, white coral, ruby and emerald, which also symbolize the seven powers of faith, perseverance, sense of shame, avoidance of wrongdoing, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom.
There is a Chinese saying which goes “saving one life is better than building a seven tier pagoda”.
Do you wonder why the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas? Why not the Dog and Cat Pagodas? or the Ox and Goat Pagodas?
The CiJi Temple is dedicated to Bao-Sheng Emperor. Bao-Sheng Emperor is a Taoist God and he’s the God of Medicine. There are a lot of fantastical stories on how Bao-Sheng Emperor performed medical miracles during his lifetime. For instance, he had once applied eye drops to a dragon and he helped to remove foreign object from a tiger’s throat.
On top of that, in Chinese culture, dragons are the ultimate symbol of energy and good fortune. Historically, Emperors were identified as the sons of dragons. And the robes emperors wear are called “dragon robes”. On the other hand, ordinary people and their families would face execution if they have items with dragon figures on them.
Do you know that in China, it is the tiger (not the lion) that is considered the king of all animals?
On top of that, the purpose of building the Pagodas is to keep away evil spirits and bring peace to the village. Who can do a better job than dragons and tigers?
When visiting the pagodas, make sure you enter the dragon’s mouth and exit through the Tiger’s for good luck. If you do the opposite, your good luck may be taken away from you. There’s another Chinese saying: “throw the goat to the mouth of tiger”. (送羊入虎口). You don’t want to be the goat. But don’t worry. There’s a sign outside the pagodas to tell you exactly what to do.
Inside the dragon’s belly, there are garish paintings, depicting scenes from heaven and hell. Those torture scenes from hell used to give me nightmares when I was a child. An effective way to teach kids to do good deeds and avoid wrongdoings.
Did you get all the questions right? I’m sure you did. You are now an expert of the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas!