Loong's head and body
Papier mache, bamboo, silk, cotton, handcut mirrors, brass, feathers.
Please contact the Bendigo Chinese AssociationCopyright
Bendigo Chinese Association
Loong (Dragon) is entirely handmade and is the oldest imperial dragon in the world. He took part in the procession in Melbourne to celebrate Federation in 1901 and retired in 1970. This image shows his head.
In 1892 a local newspaper reported the first appearance of a dragon (Loong) in the Bendigo Easter Procession. He was imported from China by the Bendigo Chinese Association, probably in 1892. Loong has five claws, which denotes royalty and gives him the highest status amongst all dragons. In his original state Loong was about 60 metres long and was built from colourful silks, mirrors, bamboo and papier mache. It took 46 men to carry his legs, and another six to carry the head.
Since his retirement Loong has performed on a few rare occasions. In 2001 he travelled to Melbourne and performed in the Centenary of Federation parade at the request of the Federal Government. In 2008, the Golden Dragon Museum had Loong placed on the Victorian Heritage register. This listing formally acknowledges his cultural heritage significance and ensures he receives the State's heritage protection. (Text courtesy Bendigo Chinese Association Inc, and The 1880s Processional Regalia of the Bendigo Chinese Association, Golden Dragon Museum, 2010)
The Chinese arrived in Bendigo during the gold rush of the 1850s. In 1854, it was estimated there were 4,000 Chinese on the Bendigo fields. In 1871 the Chinese community joined the Bendigo Easter Procession, which had begun in 1869, to assist in fundraising for charity, specifically the Benevolent Asylum. The Chinese community gained recognition for their interest and generosity that the community was asked to assist and participate with the Easter Fair. There were scores of finely embroidered costumes, banners of all colours and shapes, richly carved iron wheeled vehicles and musical instruments for Chinese bands. 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.