December 25, 2012

0431 CHINA (Hong Kong) - The Dragon dance

For the Chinese, the dragons are helpful, friendly creatures, linked to good luck, long life and wisdom. The appearance of a dragon is both frightening and bold but it has a benevolent disposition, and so eventually became an emblem to represent imperial authority. Many Chinese people use the term Descendants of the Dragon as a sign of ethnic identity. I like this, especially since, according to the Chinese Zodiac, I'm a Dragon.

The Chinese traditional Dragon dance is most often seen in festive celebrations, such as the Chinese New Year, to scare away evil spirits. The dance team mimics the supposed movements of this river spirit in a sinuous, undulating manner. Sometimes one man has a Pearl of Wisdom on a pole and he entices the Dragon to follow him to the beat of a drum, as if searching for wisdom and knowledge.

Dragons used in Dragon dances vary in length from a few metres to up to 100m long. Longer Dragons are thought to be more lucky than shorter ones. The patterns of the dragon dance are choreographed according to the skills and experiences acquired by the performers. Some of the patterns of the dragon dance are Cloud Cave, Whirlpool, T'ai chi pattern, Threading the money, Looking for pearl, and Dragon encircling the pillar. The movement Dragon chasing the pearl shows that the dragon is continually in the pursuit of wisdom. The dances can be performed either during the day or night, but at night a blazing torch will be carried to light the way.

About the stamps
The first stamp, depictind Scarlet minivet (50c), belongs to a series of birds about which I wrote here. The second, depicting Sequined Reversible Palace Costume ($2.50), is part of the second set Hong Kong Museums Collection, about which I wrote here.

Dragon dance - Wikipedia

Sender: Kun Hu (direct swap)
Sent from Honk Kong, on 11.04.2012
Photo: Edmond Chan

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