Most of all known as the symbol of the emperor and a dragon in full frontal face view is singularly reserved as a symbol for the Emperor. All members of the imperial household used dragons in some color or position as their symbols, as their rank permitted.
The dragon is also the most important of the four super natural creatures in Chinese mythology, ranked with the Phoenix, the Qilin, and the Tortoise. The dragon is also the symbol of the month March, of Spring and of rebirth and fertility for it brings the rain bearing clouds of spring. When shown with the "heavenly pearl" (sometimes "ball") it represents thunder and the storm. Emblem of vigilance and safety, and frequently associated with the idea of joy. The different aspects of the dragon is expressed as its nine sons, of which the Qilung is one - the
The "nine sons of the dragon" were a group of mythical beast who were composites of different animals that would represent the synergic distillation of virtues that were assigned to them.
This practice was very common in ancient cultures worldwide whether they the European unicorns, Annubis of Egypt or Quetzlcotl, the feathered serpent of Meso America.
The inhabitants of early China were into this as far back as 2000BCE,as documented in the fanciful creations of their jade work, the pig dragon being one of the more whimsical critters.
I can't really see the almost extinct sad little Yangzte Alligator being the inspiration for such a mighty creature as the dragon as it doesn't get much bigger than 6 feet, there are lizards in China that are bigger than that. I would suggest that the Chinese dragon began very early on in Neolithic times; in the imaginations of China's earliest inhabitants as they sat around their campfires and tried to comprehend and assign meanings to the world around them. The true origin of the Dragon, (like the Taotie motif) I believe will be lost to us in the fog of hoary antiquity which is the way legends should be. (David Sablan Camacho, 2002).
Acording to Chinese belifes people born in the Year of the Dragon (1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000) are healthy, energetic, excitable, short-tempered, and stubborn. They are also honest, sensitive, brave, and they inspire confidence and trust. Dragon people are the most eccentric of any in the eastern zodiac. They neither borrow money nor make flowery speeches, but they tend to be soft-hearted which sometimes gives others an advantage over them. They are compatible with Rats, Snakes, Monkeys, and Roosters.
Worth noticing is that in early mythology the distinctions between words that describe dragons and snakes are often blurred, and are to some degree interchangeable. The old German word for dragon, "lindwurm", literally means "snake-worm" The ancient Anglo-Saxon word "wyrm" has been translated as meaning any of "dragon," "serpent," or "worm". Early pictorial representations of dragons were almost always shown as large snakes. Ancient dragons seeme as a rule to be described more like giant serpents. The Bible interchanges the words dragon and serpent liberally. See for example Job 41 for a good Biblical description of a dragon:
1 "Can you pull in the leviathan with a fishhook or tie down his tongue with a rope-
2 Can you put a cord through his nose or pierce his jaw with a hook-
3 Will he keep begging you for mercy- Will he speak to you with gentle words-
4 Will he make an agreement with you for you to take him as your slave for life-
5 Can you make a pet of him like a bird or put him on a leash for your girls-
6 Will traders barter for him- Will they divide him up among the merchants-
7 Can you fill his hide with harpoons or his head with fishing spears-
8 If you lay a hand on him, you will remember the struggle and never do it again!
9 Any hope of subduing him is false; the mere sight of him is overpowering.
10 No one is fierce enough to rouse him. Who then is able to stand against me-
11 Who has a claim against me that I must pay- Everything under heaven belongs to me.
12 "I will not fail to speak of his limbs, his strength and his graceful form.
13 Who can strip off his outer coat- Who would approach him with a bridle-
14 Who dares open the doors of his mouth, ringed about with his fearsome teeth-
15 His back has [His pride is his] rows of shields tightly sealed together;
16 each is so close to the next that no air can pass between.
17 They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted.
18 His snorting throws out flashes of light; his eyes are like the rays of dawn.
19 Firebrands stream from his mouth; sparks of fire shoot out.
20 Smoke pours from his nostrils as from a boiling pot over a fire of reeds.
21 His breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from his mouth.
22 Strength resides in his neck; dismay goes before him.
23 The folds of his flesh are tightly joined; they are firm and immovable.
24 His chest is hard as rock, hard as a lower millstone.
25 When he rises up, the mighty are terrified; they retreat before his thrashing.
26 The sword that reaches him has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin.
27 Iron he treats like straw and bronze like rotten wood.
28 Arrows do not make him flee; slingstones are like chaff to him.
29 A club seems to him but a piece of straw; he laughs at the rattling of the lance.
30 His undersides are jagged potsherds, leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge.
31 He makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment.
32 Behind him he leaves a glistening wake; one would think the deep had white hair.
33 Nothing on earth is his equal — a creature without fear.
34 He looks down on all that are haughty; he is king over all that are proud."