dilong and tianlong Picture

Heaven and Earth

Dilong (simplified Chinese: 地龙; traditional Chinese: 地龍; pinyin: dìlóng; Wade–Giles: ti-lung; lit. "earth dragon") is a Chinese dragon name that is also used to mean "earthworm" in Traditional Chinese Medicine and "Geosaurus" in Zoological nomenclature.

In Chinese mythology, dilong 地龍 "earth dragon" is one of many types of -long 龍 dragons such as shenlong 神龍 "divine dragon" and huanglong 黃龍 "yellow dragon". Since dì 地 "earth; land; soil; ground" semantically contrasts with tian 天 "heaven; sky" (e.g., tiandi 天地 "heaven and earth; universe", see Tiandihui), the dilong is paired with the tianlong 天龍 "heavenly dragon". Chinese dragons were supposedly able to fly, and thus were considered celestial creatures rather than terrestrial ones like the "earthbound" dilong. Two other exceptions are panlong 蟠龍 "coiled/curled dragon; a dragon that has not ascended to heaven" and tulong 土龍 "soil/earth dragon", which refers to the tuo 鼉 "Chinese Alligator" (cf. Japanese mogura 土竜 "mole").

Dilong first occurs in the mid 7th-century CE History of Southern Dynasties biography of Liang Dynasty Admiral Wang Sengbian 王僧辯 (d. 555 CE). It says witnesses saw lianglong 兩龍 "two/paired dragons" that ascended into the sky, and this dilong "earth dragon" leaving Liang territory was interpreted as a portent of their defeat in 550 CE. Ronan and Needham (1995:308) cite another context in Wang's biography that says his boat had shuanglong 雙龍 "two dragons" on the side, which they construe as a "literary emendation" for shuanglun 雙輪 "two wheels" describing an early paddleboat.

Tianlong (simplified Chinese: 天龙; traditional Chinese: 天龍; pinyin: tiānlóng; Wade–Giles: t'ien lung; lit. "heavenly dragon") is a flying dragon in Chinese mythology, a star in Chinese astrology, and a proper name.
he term tianlong combines tian 天 "heaven" and long 龍 "dragon". Since tian literally means "heaven; the heavens; sky" or figuratively "Heaven; God; gods", tianlong can denote "heavenly dragon; celestial dragon" or "holy dragon; divine dragon".

Tianlong 天龍 is homophonous with another name in Chinese folklore. Tianlong 天聾 "Heavenly Deaf" (with the character long 聾 "deaf" combining the "ear radical" 耳 and a long 龍 phonetic element) and Diya 地啞 "Earthly Dumb" are legendary attendants to Wenchang 文昌, the patron deity of literature.

From originally denoting "heavenly dragon", Tianlong 天龍 semantically developed meanings as Buddhist "heavenly Nāgas" or "Devas and Nāgas", "centipede", and "proper names" of stars, people, and places.
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