Sunday, October 5, 2008


Dilong is a Chinese dragon name that is also used to mean "earthworm" in Traditional Chinese Medicine and "Geosaurus" in Zoological nomenclature.


In Chinese mythology, ''dilong'' 地龍 "earth dragon" is one of many types of ''-long'' dragons such as ''shenlong'' 神龍 "divine dragon" and ''huanglong'' 黃龍 "yellow dragon". Since ''di'' "earth; land; soil; ground" semantically contrasts with ''tian'' "heaven; sky" , the ''dilong'' is paired with the ''tianlong'' 天龍 "heavenly dragon". Chinese dragons were supposedly able to fly, and thus were considered celestial creatures rather than terrestrial ones like the "earthbound" ''dilong''. Two other exceptions are ''panlong'' 蟠龍 "coiled/curled dragon; a dragon that has not ascended to heaven" and ''tulong'' 土龍 "soil/earth dragon", which refers to the ''tuo'' "Chinese Alligator" .

''Dilong'' first occurs in the mid 7th-century CE History of Southern Dynasties biography of Liang Dynasty Admiral Wang Sengbian 王僧辯 . It says witnesses saw ''lianglong'' 兩龍 "two/paired dragons" that ascended into the sky, and this ''dilong'' "earth dragon" leaving Liang territory was interpreted as a portent of their defeat in 550 CE. Ronan and Needham cite another context in Wang's biography that says his boat had ''shuanglong'' 雙龍 "two dragons" on the side, which they construe as a "literary emendation" for ''shuanglun'' 雙輪 "two wheels" describing an early paddleboat.


''Dilong'' or ''dilongzi'' 地龍子 "earth dragon child" is an elegant name for the "earthworm; worm", which is usually called ''qiuyin'' . "''Long'' 龍 is employed in Chinese zoological nomenclature in much the same way that English ''dragon'' is used in ''dragonfly'' or ''dragonfish''", explains Carr . First, "''long'' names lifeforms thought to resemble dragons" ; second, "''long'' 龍 is closely associated with dinosaurs" .

''Dilong'' first means "earthworm" in the ''Qixiu Leigao'' 七修類稿 written by the Ming Dynasty scholar Lang Ying 郎瑛 . The 1578 Bencao Gangmu pharmacological entry for ''qiuyin'' 蚯蚓 "earthworm" lists alternate names of ''dilong'' and ''tulong'' 土龍 . Li Shizhen notes these names derive from the myth that earthworms can create ''yinqing'' 陰晴 "cloudy and clear; unsettled weather".

''Dilongsan'' 地龍散 "earth dragon powder" or Di Long is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is prepared from the abdomen of the Red earthworm, Lumbricus rubellus, and has many purported medicinal uses.

Other meanings

''Dilong'' 地龍 "earth dragon" is the modern Chinese term for the Mesozoic crocodilian ''Geosaurus'' . Contrast the feathered tyrannosaurid Dilong that was named from Chinese ''dilong'' 帝龍 "emperor dragon".

Chinese ''dilong'' or Japanese ''chiryū'' 地龍 is the name of a chess piece in Shogi. In Taikyoku shogi, this piece has 地龍 "earth dragon" written on one side and ''yulong'' or ''uryū'' 雨龍 "rain dragon" on the obverse.

One variety of Ditangquan martial arts is called ''Shaolin dilongquan'' 少林地龙拳 "Shaolin Earth Dragon Boxing".

In the Sexagenary cycle and Chinese astrology, ''duchen'' 土辰 "The Year of the Earth Dragon" is a recurring combination of Dragon with the , see Chinese calendar correspondence table and Tibetan calendar.

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