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Rooftop Dragon

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Rooftop Dragon

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Chiwen

According to the Ming Dynasty Wuzazu 五雜俎 (tr. Visser 1913:101),  "The ch'i-wen, which like swallowing, are placed on both ends of the ridgepoles of roofs (to swallow all evil influences)."

 

This is the fish-like, hornless dragon with a very truncated body and large, wide mouth usually found along roof ridges (as if swallowing the roof beams). His presence on roofs is also said to guard against fires. A paragraph in the Tang dynasty book Su Shi Yan Yi (苏氏演义) by Su E (苏鹗) says that a mythical sea creature called the chi wen [sic] was put on the roofs of buildings during the Han dynasty to protect the structures from fire hazards. This dragon is still found on the roofs of traditional Chinese homes today, protecting the inhabitants from fires.


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