15 Jan THE HISTORY OF DRAGON DANCE
A familiar tempo of loud, thunderous sounds of horns, drums gong reminds us of one, and only one thing. Dragon dance.
Over and beyond an entertaining performance, underlies a hidden significance in its profound history. For Chinese, dragon is an iconic animal that symbolises wisdom, power, auspiciousness and imperial authority, withholding unfathomable powers and extravagant dignity, which embodies of the concept of the yang force.
Originated from the Han Dynasty, the tradition of dragon dance has never gotten a chance to become obsolete. Till date, this tradition remains as robust practice during festive seasons or important occasions. Initially performed to amuse the ancestors and plead for downpour to sustain the crops, this art form has revolutionise into a cultural activity which has been witnessed in every festival since the Tang and Song Dynasty.
The old tale began with a legendary dragon that encountered severe pain around his waist. After testing every existing medication at that time, its pain lingered and, helplessly, revealed itself as a human and sought for doctor’s advice. The wise doctor detected unusualness and exposed its immortality. Nevertheless, the doctor still proceeded with a minor operation to alleviate the tremendous pain the dragon underwent. With indebtedness, the legendary dragon granted the earth with smooth-sailing weather and fruitful harvests. After receiving the great news, inhabitants of the earth dedicated dragon dance to the almighty legend in gratefulness.
The dragon was depicted as a combination of multifarious animals, including horns of a stag, ears of a bull, eyes of a rabbit, claws of a tiger and the scales of a fish, featured on a long serpent’s body. These traits construct the ideology of dragons as an amphibious with the extraordinary ability to manoeuvre on land, air and sea, bequeathing them the governors of the weather.
This exquisite state of art has officially been recognised as an emblem of Penang. Now, it is our responsibility uplift our culture with pride and love.