Unlike the European Dragon and other Oriental Dragons, Chinese dragons
lay only a single egg, which they carry about, often beneath the chin,
rather than lay a clutch of eggs and incubate them in a dry place. However,
in both species the eggs are exceptionally hard and stone like and may
require many months to hatch. The egg in its early stages is usually white
and resembles a pearl, but late in incubation it changes to a golden, or
even a reddish-gold, hue.
It took fifteen hundred years to become a full-grown lung, another five
hundred to grow horns, and a thousand more to develop wings.
Fortunately, since the maturation process takes such a long time, Eastern
Dragons mate frequently. The female usually gives birth to nine at a time.
Each baby differs. The first sounds like a bell, the second like a harp,
the third is always thirsty, the fourth loves to climb, the fifth is a
fighter, number six is a scholar, the seventh has keen hearing, the eighth
just sits around, and the ninth is a weight lifter.
Images of these nine dragons decorate various objects, for example, the
weight lifter is carved on the bottom of monuments; the fighter, on sword
handles; the thirsty one is painted on drinking cups, and the scholar-dragon
is printed on textbooks. Some dragons lay eggs near mountain streams, and
then desert them. The hen-sized eggs look like beautiful stones. The eggs
hatch when lightning flashes in the sky.