January 23, 2012, marked the beginning of the Chinese Year of the Water Dragon. Dragons are auspicious creatures in Chinese culture, symbolizing nobility, royalty and good fortune. They are also associated with water: “In Chinese belief, dragons rule over moving bodies of water and are considered to be the givers of rain,” writes Amy Huang on the blog Shape of Good Fortune (a visually rich Chinese New Year’s exhibition curated by Brown University art history students). As Huang explains:
This connection between dragons and water is especially important for this 2012—the Year of the Water Dragon. This year’s energy is said to favor expansion and growth, in a calmer way than that of the dragons associated with other of the Five Elements, or Wuxing 五行 (metal, wood, water, fire, and earth). The water dragon represents the flow and the overcoming of obstacles, as the water element is said to nourish new beginnings, innovation and successful growth. While all five dragons are known for their ability to magnify both the successes and failures of the year, the water dragon is known above all for its constancy—a celebration of balance between logic and creativity.
Since actual dragons are rare these days, you might want to build your own. Remember how fun it was to make arts ‘n’ crafts out of toilet paper rolls? You have lots of time to experiment–the Year of the Dragon runs till February 9, 2013, after which we’ll be thinking about snakes. Here are my favorite dragon-making tutorials, ranging from papier-mâché to origami to nail art. I’m especially inspired by the “Dragon Chino,” who takes kind of crazy flight on a Canary Island beach about one minute into the video.
All videos embedded from YouTube.com and are the property of the artists. “Kai Lan’s Chinese Dragon Parade” is from Squidoo.com.