LU-BAN is responsible for some of the most amazing Chinese architecture, in particular the dragon motifs which decorate many ancient temples. And thereby hangs a (dragon’s) tale...
It seems that LU-BAN was drawing up blueprints for a wonderful new building. Stuck for inspiration, he visited AO-KUANG, the Dragon King of the Eastern Ocean, to ask if he might possibly use his magnificent Underwater Crystal Palace as a template.
The King was highly flattered. "Very well," he said, "I’ll have it delivered first thing in the morning. But I’ll need it back in three days; I’m expecting company."
As promised, the palace was flown over by a team of dragons and LU-BAN set to work on his own version. Unfortunately, the palace was so impressively built that after three days he’d only managed to lay a few foundations and order the timber. He wanted more time...
Along came the dragons to collect the palace. With a nod to LU-BAN, they clustered around the building and began to lift. Funny, it wouldn’t budge. They heaved and strained but it was stuck fast. LU-BAN had nailed it to the ground.
That night the Dragon King was furious. He sent an army of dragons, crabs and sea monsters, but none of them had ever seen a nail before. The palace remained firmly in place.
As the sun rose on the fourth day, the sea creatures scuttled back to the sea, but the dragons kept straining to lift the building. It was a very hot day, the sun dried them out, and they all collapsed from heat exhaustion.
To LU-BAN’s amazed delight, their dried-out bodies curled around the palace and around each other, and presented an awesomely impressive spectacle. He immediately tore up his blueprints and began plans for a range of Dragon Temples. These were highly successful and are still seen in China today.
LU-BAN is also credited with inventing the first flying machine, a kite-like object made of wood. The flying dragons probably inspired that too. In fact he may even have used it to escape the Dragon King’s wrath.