The world’s longest dragon Dai Gum Loong (Big Golden Dragon) has arrived in Bendigo, ahead of its unveiling at the city’s iconic Easter Festival thanks to funding from across the community and the Victorian Government.
“Bendigo has been a vibrant home for the Chinese community for more than 150 years. It’s a great honour to help celebrate this heritage by delivering Bendigo’s newest dragon,” said Premier Daniel Andrews. “As the longest dragon in the world, Dai Gum Loong will attract visitors, boost local jobs and ensure the Chinese community’s proud history in Bendigo lives on.”
The record-breaking dragon, made by Master Hui – one of Hong Kong’s youngest practitioners of this ancient art form – has more than 7,000 scales combining traditional painting and weaving techniques, and natural resources like bamboo and silk, to create the entirely hand-made dragon for festivals and celebrations.
Bendigo has long had a tradition of parading imperial-style dragons with Bendigo Golden Dragon Museum’s first dragon, Loong, brought to Victoria by the Bendigo Chinese Association in 1892.
Since 1970, Sun Loong (New Dragon) has been the headline attraction of the Easter Festival, and a major contributor to tourism and local jobs, with the long running festival attracting 60,000 visitors each year.
Now, the time has come to hand over a new dragon, with the recently restored and preserved 49 year-old Sun Loong set to make its last Easter performance before retiring to the Golden Dragon Museum in Bendigo.
In Chinese culture, dragons represent power, dignity, strength and wisdom, and they have been brought to life by dancers for more than 1,000 years. For the first time, men and women will carry the dragon in the Easter parade, breaking with a centuries old Chinese tradition which has seen only men allowed to carry the dragons.
Victoria’s Chinese community is one of the state’s largest and most established cultural groups, and Bendigo plays a significant role in the community’s history. Chinese miners and merchants migrated to the region’s goldfields in the latter half of the 19th Century and have played a strong role ever since.
The Victorian Government contributed $250,000 towards the design and construction of Dai Gum Loong. A number of other organisations and supporters have also contributed to the $750,000 project, including local community members, the Commonwealth Government, Virgin and the City of Greater Bendigo.
The 2019 Bendigo Easter Festival runs 19 – 22 April. For more information, visit: www.bendigoeasterfestival.org.au for details.
Image: Dai Gum Loong – courtesy of Golden Dragon Museum