In Asian myths, no creature is as impressive as the dragon. For Vietnamese peasants, the dragon was a vivid symbol of the fourfold deity-clouds, rain, thunder and lighting. Represented by an S shape, dragons are depicted on artifacts dating back to the Dong Son-Au Lac culture, which existed in northern Vietnam in the first millennium B.C. Later came the cult of Tu Phap, or the Four Miracles. Long ago stargazers identified the Dragon constellation made up of seven stars arranged like an S. The brightest star is the Mind (Tam), also known as the Divine (Than) star. The word Than may also be read as Thin (Dragon), which denotes the third month of the lunar calendar and represents the Yang vital energy.
Dragons were also associated with kingship. Every Vietnamese person knows the legend of Lac Long Quan and Au Co. Lac Long Quan (King Dragon of the Lac Bird Clan) is known as the forefather of the Vietnamese people. He is said to have been the son of a dragon, w
hile his wife, Au Co, was the child of a fairy. Their eldest son, King Hung, taught the people to tattoo their chests, bellies and thighs with dragon images to protect themselves from aquatic monsters.