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The Dragon of Pagoda in Kew Garden and Lotus Pond | 龍之塔


吉客鏈:東方寶塔 X 龍的印象 X 名勝亮點


In the western imagination, dragons are bad and scary. For instance in Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, or even Saint George of England, which is often portrayed as killing a dragon.

Photo Credit | Dad Hsu

Those western dragons aren't the ones I used to know.

I was raised up near to the dragon and tiger of pagodas, at the edge of the Lotus Pond in Kaohsiung. I and my younger sister even dressed in 'the dragon - color' made by my skillful mum, when I was probably 7 and she was 3. (More reading about Lotus Pond - Old FongShan City - Lotus Pond )

The dragon in my belief system is a symbol of power, strength, and good luck. It can protect and bring a prosperous life for people. Over the dynasties, only emperor could wear the dragon gown.

The look of dragon I used to see composed with antlers of a deer, head of a camel, eyes of a demon, neck of a snake, belly of a clam, scales of a carp, claws of an eagle, paws of a tiger and ears of an ox was friendly, not scary.

The KEW's Pagoda

2019 Christmas Time

Richard and I were in London and we visited Fiona and Nial during Christmas in 2019. We met them in Kew Garden. Fiona showed us around Temperate House and the Garden. She also took us to the Japanese Pavilion and the Great Pagoda.

I surprised to see the pagoda's dragon standing in front of me. It was designed by Sir William Chambers, with splendid dragons on the rooves in 1762 and disappeared for 234 years. In 2018, the Kew's team restored those dragons back onto the rooves.

Photo Credit | Chi Hsu(Left:Kew's Pagoda | Right : Lotus Pond's Pagodas)

I read the story behind the Kew's dragons and touched by the article described the dragons restored as a great matter.

"This building has stood naked and neglected for 234 years; a King without his crown, a Queen without her jewels."

What's the difference?

We walked and looked around the pagoda again and again.

"What's the difference of these dragons and those of your country?, Fiona asked.

"Look differently and ours are without wings!", I answered frankly.

Photo Credit | Chi Hsu (Upper:Kew's Dragon | Lower : Lotus Pond's Dragon)

Interestingly, if tracked the architecture history of the Kew's Pagoda is much more older than that of the Lotus Pond (built in 1976). Sir Chambers had spent time travelling and studying the architecture of East Asia. His dragon design reflected what he had seen in 18th century. But, it is not clear why the dragons didn't look like the oriental appearance. Surely, those represented the symbol of power, strength, and good luck. Maybe Sir William mixed the culture then westernized them?

Had those two images below in Kew Garden and Lotus Pond. The dragon of pagoda is becoming a significant architecture, isn't it?

Photo Credit | Chi Hsu (Left:Kew's Pagoda | Right : Lotus Pond's Pagodas)

The Dragon and Tiger Pagodas

If you haven't visited Taiwan, you are welcome to visit here with traveling free of charge. Let me quote how Lonely Planet guide:

On the southern edge of Lotus Pond are the red-and-yellow seven-storey Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, built in full-blown '70s flamboyance. They're connected to a temple by a zigzag bridge. Leading to the twin towers are corridors built in the likeness of the eponymous creatures. Be sure to enter through the dragon's mouth and exit through the tiger's jaws. To do otherwise would bring terrible luck.

Photo Credit | Chi Hsu

Yes, never ever enter the pagoda from TIGER's mouth! An ancient idiom described the dangerous situation as "A sheep is into the tiger's mouth". Similar to "That's like putting the cat near the goldfish bowl."

For zigzag bridge and the temple Lonely Planet mentioned, you can see the image I took from the higher level of the pagoda below:

Photo Credit | Chi Hsu

The Time of Travel Free

Since the pandemic, the lockdown and work from home policies make people miss the freedom of movement. Taiwan has been lucky with very few restrictions. Wishing you the gift of freedom to travel sooner rather than later.

Welcome to Taiwan!


【Reference】The Lotus Pond's Before & After

(Photo Credit - Left: Library of Taiwan University | Right: Chi Hsu)

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21 févr. 2023


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