Han Dynasty Dragon

A while back Jenny emailed me asking how I imagined the dragons in my Dragonkeeper books would look. I told her that I had been inspired by a Han dynasty painting of a dragon. I thought other readers might be interested to see it. It is quite different to the usual images of Chinese dragons that we see.

Han dragon

This dragon looks a lot friendlier, I think. Almost like it’s smiling. And most importantly, it’s got wings. Normally Chinese dragons don’t have wings. I didn’t imagine that Danzi was as skinny as this dragon.

This image is a section of a painting on silk found in a Han dynasty tomb. It’s more than 2000 years old.

(Image from Zhongguo kao gu da fa xian by Gong Liang, Shandong hua bao chu ban she, 1999)

85 responses to “Han Dynasty Dragon

  1. WOW!!!

    That’s really cool, getting your ideas from an 2000 year old painting!

    Thanks SOOO much!

  2. Amazing!!! Hey, whats really amazing is the fact that a piece of handmade material could last so many years!!! Especially the fact that you can still se the dragon on it, I looked at a piece of silk in a chinese art exhibition from 2000 years ago and the dyes of the silk had faded heaps!!!

  3. what inspired you to make kai as it is. i think the picture is very beutiful.

  4. Claire,
    Perhaps it survived well because it was sealed in a tomb. So it had been in the dark until it was unearthed in 1972.

  5. Connor,
    I sent the picture to the people who designed the cover and they redrew it as part of the cover design. I didn’t intend it to be Kai, but everyone assumes that it is.

  6. But it’s still pretty. And rather curious because, as you DID point out, Carole, the dragon has wings. From the extent of my knowledge, most Eastern Dragons are shown as the pictured dragon without wings. It’s really curious. To me, at any rate 😛

  7. Krystal,
    There are quite a few images of Han Dynasty dragons with wings. Early mythology refers to dragons growing wings after a thousand years or so.
    I have a French book about the painting at the moment which I am trying to translate. That might give me more information.

  8. Cool. I get most of my dragon-related information from my dragonology book. It has some beautiful images in it itself.

  9. Connor,
    Japanese dragons don’t have wings either. I think the winged dragons were in earlier Chinese art and then they disappeared. As I said I’ve seen quite a few images from the Han dynasty with wings. Sometimes they are very small.

  10. Sansthita,
    Ping wasn’t strong and headstrong to start off with, she was timid and lacking confidence. She learned how to be strong and confident, but even towards the end of the trilogy she still had self-doubt.
    I think I was a bit like Ping when I started writing.

  11. japanese dragons are not common compared to chinese what startles me is that to different country’s have drawn the same animal wich could mean dragons were real

  12. Connor,
    It should have horns. There is a bit of the painting missing. The other three dragons on the painting all have horns.
    It could also be that people from different countries have all invented the same wonderful creature, which is just as startling I think.

  13. I’m going with Connor on this one. I’ve always wandered about it. How can so many people (Chinese and Japanese) imagine of a dragon that almost has the same structure in everyone’s mind. Dragons DID exist.. o_0

    P.S When Dragon Moon coming to the UK? You Aussies already have it 😛

  14. you have inspired me with every book,the covers and all, i really enjoy your stories and you should write somemore dragon books they are amaizing

  15. Sarah,
    Thanks for that. I’m delighted to hear that I have inspired you. I will write more dragon books, but different ones. In fact my dragon encyclopedia will be published in October.

  16. Oooh, a dragon encyclopedia. I’m so gonna get that when it comes out.

    …and when I get the money for it too

  17. Hi Carole,

    Want to get a book i’m writing published can you tell me some one who can anyway here’s the first few lines

    The boy closed his eyes and created a image in his mind.He pitchured a mother,father and many brothers and sisters and a big house.But no he didn’t get any of that.He was a street rat in New York.His mother died when he was 3 and his father left him in a alley way when he was 4 and he was a onley child.His days were made up of stealing for food normaly nuts and fruit like apples or oranges but on a lucky day he may get a fish.

  18. That story is about a boy who has a dream to find his father and his name.can he beleive in himself and find his father???

  19. Connor,
    I think you have to have a finished book before you start looking for a publisher.
    My advice to aspiring writers is to keep working on your story until it’s as good as you can make it. That means not only writing it, but rewriting and editing it over and over again. It takes me about a year to write a novel and almost half of that time is spent editing and rewriting, polishing it.
    If you have a novel that you think is at that stage, then you find a publisher who publishes books in a similar genre and send it off. It’s not an easy thing to get a book published.

  20. Carole,

    I really enjoyed the talk you gave at Avila. It was very interesting. Everyone thought you were great! I also can’t believe you researched about dragons for 10 years! Thats a long time ago. And just so you know i’m doing a speech on you as the topic is “The person I admire..” and you do! Keep up the good work!

    P.S I was on the ‘quiet’ side of the theatre.

  21. Sarah,
    Glad you enjoyed the talk. Talking to school groups can be scary, especially older kids, because I know some of them aren’t all that interested in listening to an author and didn’t choose to be there.
    Thanks for picking me as the topic of your speech. I’m honoured.

  22. i thougt dragons didnt have wings.everytime time i see the picture, i can’t see them.do they have wing actually?

  23. Chris,
    Chinese dragons don’t usually have wings, but in this painting there is a wing. It is red, purple and white striped.

  24. are your dragon facts real?e.g. arsenic is good for dragons,metal burns dragons. please reply soon, i’m doing a project on chinese dragons.

  25. Sarah,
    These are all characteristics of dragons that are mentioned in ancient Chinese books. It is iron that hurts dragons, btw, not all metals.
    It said in one of these books that dragons made a sound like banging copper bowls together. I took that a bit further and made up other metallic sounds they could make when they are in different moods.

  26. thank you!
    p.s. do you know a good book,anything to look at?there’s so little in the school library that i’m beginning to worry that i can’t write three pages.no websites please, this is a book only task,one of the reasons i need help.

  27. Sarah,
    Sorry, there isn’t a book about Chinese dragons that you could easily find. The ones I have read weren’t that easy to track down, I’m afraid.
    My new book about dragons isn’t out yet, but there are some extracts from it on the black dog website
    if you click on all the links you should get some information about Chinese dragons.
    This isn’t strictly website info as it’s from an unpublished book.
    Hope that helps.

  28. wow .. the pic look cool =)

    sorry to ask but do you have any pictures of what Kai could possibly look like? if you do, could u send it to my email
    i sent an email before but i forgot to ask and i was checking out your website site so yeah
    thanks =)

  29. Tracey,
    This is the picture that inspired my idea of what dragons look like in the Dragonkeeper books.
    Except Kai didn’t have wings and horns because he was only young.
    There is a description of Danzi at the beginning of Dragonkeeper (p.28) which tells you what I imagine Chinese dragons look like. Kai would be a smaller version of that.

  30. Emily,
    Do you mean Garden of the Purple Dragon and Dragon Moon? Garden of PD should definitely be available. I assume you get the US edition in Canada. Is that right? If so Dragon Moon will be out in May.

  31. dear carol
    your dragon keeper books are truly the best i have ever read i was on dragon moon and could not read the last chapter how could she leave kai there like that i know that it is just a book but not to me i really means something i can not read the last chapter .
    does ping ever see princess yan xing ? or her mother . does she ever see kai again .do those places in china really exist i learn chinese and manderin did ping speak manderin?
    i just cant let her out of my life carol pls do another dragon keeper book .and is the isle of the dead heaven …..love amy

  32. dear carol
    your dragon keeper books are truly the best i have ever read i was on dragon moon and could not read the last chapter how could she leave kai there like that i know that it is just a book but not to me i really means something i can not read the last chapter .
    does ping ever see princess yan xing ? or her mother . does she ever see kai again .do those places in china really exist i learn chinese and manderin did ping speak manderin?
    i just cant let her out of my life carol pls do another dragon keeper book .and is the isle of the blest heaven …..love amy

  33. Amy,
    Glad you like the books so much. You will have to read the last chapter.
    I can’t answer your questions re what happens after the end of Dragon Moon. I don’t know. Ping lives her life in private. I think it is up to readers to decide for themselves what happens to her.
    Some of the places exist in China like Chang’an and Tai Shan. Some I made up.
    I don’t know what form of Chinese people spoke in China 2000 years ago. I imagine it would have been like Mandarin, but she could have spoken some sort of local dialect. I imagined it was Mandarin because that’s what I know.
    No the Isle of the Blest is not Heaven.

  34. hi carol
    what is the isle of the blest
    i would like to read the last chapter carol but i am so attached to the book and the charactors
    i cant let go i know the joke is on me for getting so attached to ping ( its just a book)
    but i really feel like i know her
    love amy
    p.s are you australian

  35. carol
    how did you come up with dragon keeper
    did you get it from ???
    and who is the girl on the cover is it always the same girl …
    do you know her what is her name or is that private info


  36. …..
    If you click on FAQs at the top of this page you can read about how I came up with the idea for Dragonkeeper. Not sure what you mean by “did you get it from ???”.
    The name of the girl on the covers is Tiffany.

  37. dear carol thanks so much for your reply
    my friend amy told me to put my real nane its
    kay i really hate that name
    thats why i put ….

    do you know tiffany if you do tell her she is so pretty


  38. hi carol its amy
    what are jujubes ?
    do you wach the oplimpicts
    did you see the opining serimoni
    it was so cool i loved it none of the drums were out of chune it was really cool
    love amy

  39. Amy,
    jujubes are Chinese dates. There is a glossary at the back of the book that explains some of the unfamiliar terms in the book.
    Yes I watched the Opening Ceremony. I liked it, but I fell asleep before the cauldron was lit.

  40. The closing ceremony was amazing! ….But I wasn’t alloud to stay up to late.It was the best olympics I ever watched.Go MichelPhelps!!I almost fainted when he just became the greatest olympian of all time.

  41. this picture is really interesting!!!!
    i really like the dragon keeper series
    its like watching a movie
    i hope u can write another one…..

  42. hi carole its rhys and the 3 book dragon keeper are so cool and i cant wait for dragon dawn and when is your birthday from Australia its rhys bye

  43. hi with the last coment it was supposed to write the 3 books of the series of dragon keper and when is your birthday bye

  44. Dear Carole,

    I am a massive fan of your books. I just love Kai. You should make a book about him when he has grown up after 1000 yers or something when he gets his wings. Could you please send a picture of Kai please too?

  45. Laura,
    Yes I have thought about that, but at the moment I have no plans to write any more Dragonkeeper books.
    Kai is a fictional character, I don’t have any pictures. Only the ones in my head. I think each reader makes their own pictures of the characters.
    If you want to see what someone else thinks he looks like, you can have a look at him on the new covers for Garden of the Purple Dragon and Dragon Moon.

  46. i like dragon keeper it is awsome if there wasn’t you there wouldn’t be a fantastic book on the would

  47. Dear Carole Wilkinson

    I have previously read 3 out of 4 of your Dragon Keeper books and it was fantastic! I was wondering if you would write more of these dragon keeper books. You are one of my BEST authors ever and even my friend like your stories.
    Me and some of my friends are are urgent to read your 4th Dragon Keeper book. I went to your website to look for the 4th book of yours and found in your website that Ping dies which was so sad. Still i just cant wait for the new book!
    I wish i could be like you and the other authors because i am so rubbish at English especially when it comes to SATs, wish you could give me some tips on writing stories.

  48. Aleena,
    I am pleased to hear you enjoyed the books.
    There is nowhere on this website that says Ping dies! The fourth book is set before she was even born.
    I have no plans to write any more Dragonkeeper books at this stage see my blog
    But you still have one to go.
    I have written some writing tips on my FAQS page
    Also I am writing a series of blogs about how I write.
    Look under Posts on the top right hand of this page. The first post is called “The Premise”, the second is called “The Research Phase”.

  49. i just am addicted to the dragon keeper series!! i read it so many times(about 10)and i never got bored of it. are you planing to publish a new book??

  50. Carol you should write more books about dragons and im sooooooooooooooooooooo addicted to ur the dragon keeper series books. And does that girl on the book’s cover, Tiffany live in australia?

  51. Carol, you should write more books about dragons and im sooooooooooooooooooooo addicted to ur the dragon keeper series books. And does that girl on the book’s cover, Tiffany live in australia?

  52. Chelsea,
    I might write more dragon books at some stage.
    Tiffany lives in Australia, as far as I know. I haven’t seen her for a few years.

  53. Hi I was wondering how old is Danzi in Dragon Keeper?
    P.S I love the book

  54. Zac,
    I’m sure Danzi tells Ping how old he is in the book. Though I couldn’t find it when I flipped through. Anyway he is 1137.

  55. In New York, when I was a child, there were boxed candies called Jujubes which were each less than a quarter of an inch in size, shaped like truncated cones and were hard jellies in many colors and flavors.

  56. Roberta,
    I remember similar sweets from my childhood in England. It wasn’t a brand name though, it was just a general name for that sort of sweet.
    Jujube is also a name given to red or Chinese dates, which is what I was describing in my books.

  57. Wow, that is a very beautiful dragon. It does look as if it is smiling! 🙂

    I think it is beautiful.

    It is soooo amzing how it lasted that long! History can be full of wonderful things!

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