For those who live in the Midwest, you might have been to Chicago’s Chinatown before. Hop off the Red Line station and you’ll come across the Nine Dragon Wall, a gift from China to Chicago.

Fun fact: There are 4 Nine Dragon Walls in China (Beijing’s Forbidden City, Beijing’s Beihai Park, Shanxi province’s Datong city, and Shanxi province’s Pingyao city), and Chicago is home to one of the four replicas in the world. 

Source: Chicago Chinese Cultural Institute

Turn around the corner and you will venture into Chinatown Square—an outdoor mall of boutiques, bakeries, restaurants, etc. in which the architectural design is a tribute to the Chinese Imperial Court. Its notable landmarks are the twelve bronze zodiac figures, the four imposing bronze gates at each end of the square that depict the Four Great Inventions of China (papermaking, printing, gunpowder, and the compass), and the giant Chinatown Mural that is made up of 100,000 individually cut pieces of hand-painted glass from China which highlights the history of Chinese immigration to the U.S. 

Source: Flickr (Gary Eckstein)

However, there’s more to Chinatown Square than meets the eye. If you look carefully as you walk through the square, you will notice glazed tiles with strange creatures on the walls. What exactly are they? 


Meet the four mythological creatures (also known as the Four Symbols) that guard the world! 

In ancient Chinese astronomy, the sky was divided into four sections. Each section contained seven mansions, thus forming 28 mansions. This enabled the Chinese to track the movement of the moon and determine the seasons and time, with each season being assigned to a mythological creature. According to archaeological evidence, the cosmological concept of the Four Symbols may have existed as early as 6,000 years ago, based on bone artifacts from Henan province.



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Brittany Chiu