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Thread: What are those?
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Old March 25th, 2012, 03:23 AM   #51
Jeff Sun
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 23

Originally Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni View Post
Hi Pierre,

Mmmmh….. You gave me the idea to check my “DICTIONNAIRE DES SYMBOLES” (Chevalier/Gheerbrant, Ed. Robert Laffont, 1993 re-print).

About “Phénix” - first mentioned by Herodotus [5th century BCE] (History, book 2) - it says it symbolized resurrection and immortality. “That’s why in all of the Middle Ages it was the symbol of Christ’s resurrection”.
As for the Dragon, in Christianity it was associated to the serpent in symbolizing the Demon or Evil (see St. George, the dragon slaughter )

I guess that the “Phoenix and Dragon” iconography that was imported from the Orient (and whose meaning I don’t remember at the moment, but it goes beyond the Emperor/Empress) was adopted in Europe to symbolize the fight between the good and the evil.

Which doesn’t help us to find the origins of the “Phoenix and Dragon” rugs in those paintings but could authorize us to think that some (I say some) of them could even be European copies.
But this is only a theory…

A word on the Dragon/Phoenix.

While the European concept of the Dragon may have some distant ties to China, the Phoenix does not. In fact the term "Phoenix" is just a western naming laid over top of a completely different Chinese Idea.

The western Phoenix, self-immolates and is reborn from the ashes in a Phoenician legend...hence the name Phoenix....from Phoenicia.

The Chinese legendary bird is actually called "Feng Huang"...which unfortunately sounds just a little like Phoenix..and is so called in the west, but does not share any of the western Phoenix's other traits and in-fact symbolizes quite different things and is depicted entirely differently. Doubtless some 17th or 16th century European trader making landfall in China first heard of "Feng Huang" and said ..."Ah...they must mean the Phoenix"....and the term stuck.

The only thing they have in common is they are legendary birds. They are not related to each other anymore than either are related to the Native American Thunderbird, Quetzocoatl, Garuda, the Arab Roc or Rodan. Ok. Technically the last one is a giant supersonic Pterydactyl and not a bird, but I think you all get the point.

Last edited by Jeff Sun; March 25th, 2012 at 04:00 AM.
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