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Much ado about new stamps and dragons (3)

By Fei Erzi (China Daily)

16:44, January 07, 2012

Though a mythical creature, the dragon is still revered by the Chinese. Among the events that still honor the dragon is the Dragon Dance, which was originally performed as a ceremonial offering to please the "Dragon King" to help bring rain to the fields. The Dragon Dance today is a popular form of entertainment. But it illustrates the importance of the dragon to us.

Different from ours, the Western dragon is supposed to be a fire-breathing, blood-sucking, pestilent beast. Embittered by these features of the Western dragon, some senseless Chinese scholars several years ago asked their fellow citizens to forget about the Chinese dragon as the symbol of China, though unofficially.

Symbols help create a sense of belonging for or to something, be it a school or a nation. For this reason, the dragon is important, as is its depiction on the stamp.

But China Post's Circulation Department Manager Feng Shula overstated it by calling the dragon on the stamp "a perfect combination of history and the modern times". Maybe the artist was preoccupied with the connotations his drawing would carry, for the dragon on the stamp is supposed to be the confident face of the country.

Unlike the bald eagle for the United States and the bear for Russia, the dragon is not a real animal. Without clear definitions and instructions of what a dragon stands for, it is difficult for an artist to draw an imaginary creature that will please most Chinese citizens.

It's time we asked whether we need an official symbol for the nation, be it a dragon or a panda, to act like spiritual glue that can hold us together.

And a stamp, certainly, doesn't qualify for that.

【1】 【2】 【3】


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Tane Haikai at 2012-01-11124.197.12.*
Cultural intelligence among traditional Dao cultures throughout the Asia-Pacific region regard water dragons as the guardians of living water. The deeper meanings of Dao symbology represented by long-long iconography reveal superior understanding of living water and watershed ecosystems. This intelligence is unknown to western science, yet it underpins traditional Dao farming systems in China ~ called terraquaculture ~ farming living water flowing through the landscape.

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