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The Dragon played an influential and beneficial role in Chinese culture. An amalgam of several creatures, including monitor lizards, pythons and the Chinese alligator, the polymorphic dragon was a water spirit, responsible for bringing the rains and thus ensuring the survival of crops. The dragon was the symbolic guardian to the gods, and was the source of true wisdom. This latter feature most likely resulted from the observation of the living reptilian counterparts which, usually at rest, seem to be in a near constant state of contemplation. Earth and Water, endowing the creature with powers of illusion and strength.
Tao itself—”the Dragon reveals himself only to vanish”. Certain very old men were called dragons, these being well versed in the life-supporting skills of herbal medicine, agriculture, and kung fu. In early China, these skills were surely a matter of life or death, and those so educated were held in high regard. The history of Southern Dragon style has historically been transmitted orally rather than by text, so its origins will probably never be known in their entirety.