Canton, China, 19th Century.
Papier mache, wire, hand cut mirrors wood.
Please contact the Bendigo Chinese AssociationCopyright
Bendigo Chinese Association
This object is from the Golden Dragon Museum’s collection of processional regalia used in the Bendigo Easter Fair processions.
It is called a flame and is a traditional item carried in front of the dragon during a procession. It was used for the imperial dragon Loong. Loong is the oldest imperial dragon in the world and also in the Golden Dragon Museum’s collection. He was probably first used in 1892, and took part in the procession in Melbourne to celebrate Federation in 1901; he retired in 1970.
The flame, huo, consists of green, red and gold stripes on an ovoid shaped frame. It rests on an inverted bell shaped holder, consisting of six panels of red, green and white silk, embroidered with multi-coloured peonies and decorated with small mirrors mounted in brass frames. At the top of the flame is a red tassel, surmounted by a gold knob. The flame is attached to a long bamboo pole painted red. The flame is a yang symbol. The peony, mu tan, is symbolic of spring, riches and honour. (Text taken from The 1880s Processional Regalia of the Bendigo Chinese Association, Golden Dragon Museum, 2010).
The Chinese arrived in Bendigo, Victoria, during the 1850s gold rush. In 1854, it was estimated that over 4,000 Chinese were on the gold fields. In 1871, the Chinese community joined the Bendigo Easter Fair and Procession (which began in 1869) to assist fundraising for charity. Providing music, theatre and acrobatic displays, the Chinese section of the Procession soon became the main attraction. This remarkable collection of 19th Century processional regalia has been preserved by the Chinese community in Bendigo and is held in the Golden Dragon Museum. It is not only a collection of world significance but, importantly, it contextualises and preserves the living heritage of both Victoria and China through the objects and through the ceremonies that continue to be practised today.