Perhaps human fantasy was stimulated by the discovery of a dinosaur skeleton in early times, so that the belief in dragons has not ceased since then. Some features of dinosaurs, like teeth and claws, are indeed very dragon-like, the rest of the dragon philosophy was added by human fantasy. In nearly all cultures of the world there was the myth of the dragon, and its existence was no question of belief.

Image 1: "In the impermanence of things, the dragons are the waves of time“. The dragons, symbolizing time, are ripping apart the pot, which symbolizes impermanence.

Image 2: A pair of dragons, trying to snatch the pearl of wisdom from each other.

In the early Western culture they resided in large dark caves. They were dreaded man-eaters. They were older than the world itself, born from chaos, spitting fire. Some courageous heroes of the old legends have lost their lives in dragon fights. The greatest heroes however won the fight between good or evil, since the dragons symbolized evil in the western culture. The Nordic people thought that the dragon NIDHÖGG was sitting in the deepest hell, eating away at the vital roots of the tree of life, YGGDRASIL, which grew invisibly from the sky to the deepest layers of earth. There are countless dragon stories, carved in stone, painted on papyrus, written on silk or printed in old, leather bound books.

Image 3: A pair of dragons, trying to snatch the pearl from each other.

Image 4: Relief of a dragon

Of all dragons, it's the Eastern ones that touch me the most; especially the Chinese dragons because they symbolize the good, in contrast to the Japanese dragons, which often also symbolize evil. The first dragon illustrations in China go back to the year 8000 B.C. Dragons were pictured through all dynasties until today in all different materials and shapes.

Image 5: Relief of a dragon

The most decorated and elaborate ones were probably those in the Ming dynasty (1368 – 1644). In the cosmos they guarded and kept the good. In the adversities of everyday life in China, they were indispensable. They were lead by the dragon guarding the sky, who was responsible for the protection of the gods and the emperor. (This was the only one with five claws, pictures of dragons with five claws were only meant to be possessed by the emperor. All other dragons had only four or three claws). The weather dragon followed, who was the ruler of the winds, clouds and rain. He was to be especially adored, because he was responsible for natural disasters. Treasure dragons lived under the earth and guarded the precious metals, precious stones etc. Those dragons possessed the famous pearl. Everything that got in contact with it, grew or multiplied itself, or in a mysterious way lead to an increase of wisdom. The last of the cosmic dragons is the earth dragon. He is the ruler of the rivers and controls the flow of the water. His palace lies on the bed of every lake or river. These types of dragons make me cheerful and wake the child inside the man. Since doing pottery, they have become my loyal spirits, and  at times, when my eyes get tired of making all those regular pots, I have to create another dragon pot. This makes the fingers flexible and opens the mind for a space inhabited by myths and legends. Since in today's culture politics have taken over what used to be the world of legends and fairy tales, and the access to this world isn't really open to me, I tend to my dragons so that they instruct me about good and evil. May the pearl of the treasure dragon touch the little community of bonsai friends, so that they increase in their numbers  and may it make the envious people wiser.

Peter Krebs

Image 6: Suiban "Happy Dragons", comissioned by Willi Benz

P.S.: All pots are handmade without a mould.

Photograph 1 by Helmut Rüger
Photographs 2, 3, 4 by Tom Heyken
Photograph 6 by Willi Benz

Books about dragons:

Time Life: “Verzauberte Welten - Drachen”
Thames and Hudson: “The Dragon - Nature of Spirit”
Studio Visa: “Art of the Dragon”

You can find more information about dragons on this website:


Translation: Heike van Gunst