My informant CH is a 47 years old Chinese animation film director. He was born and lived in southern part of China, especially Changshu and Nanjing for many years before she moved to the north, Beijing at age 34.

The conversation is in Chinese.


Main Piece:
CH: “The word in English, ‘Dragon’, is translated into Chinese as ‘Loong’. But the ‘Loong’ in China is a totally different thing than dragon. Dragon is a more evil creature that is always portrayed as the destroyer, it can breath fire. But Loong is a divine creation in China. It means royalty, luck, and happiness. For what I know about Loong, it is a combination of several different animals. It has four claws like an eagle, and it’s skin like fish scale, and it has antler on its head, with a long and thin body like a snake, and so on. I think it can be transparent sometimes is it wants, when it is flying on the sky. And it can make itself longer or shorter, or in general, make any shifting in shape and form as it wants.

Loong was the totem in ancient China. And it carries many good characteristics, and is being respected by Chinese people throughout the history.

I also heard about that Loong is actually the constellation on the night sky that people saw. And according to the tradition, since Loong is divine, as a god-like figure, which is definitely superior than normal human-being, it is invisible to any normal living creatures. So people can only see the reflection of Loong, and that can explain why people say Loong can change it shape. Or, to further think about this, Loong might be something that has different space dimension than what human can perceive. [laugh]”


Context of the performance:

This is a part of the conversation about Chinese myth with my informant CH.


My thoughts about the piece:

I notice that there are many creatures in different culture that shares similarities with the Chinese Dragon, Loong. An iconic western dragon can be found in “The Dragon Trainer” where most of the dragons are brutal and are creatures that cause destruction, but at the same time, dragons can be trained, which means they are inferior than human. However, not only is the Loong a good thing in Chinese culture, it represents divinity, royalty, and supreme. I think the two creatures have two different origins, but interestingly, they share some similarities. For example, both of the can fly, though in different ways (dragon has wings, Loong doesn’t have wings… but can fly anyway). Also, there is a similar creature in Indian cuture, named as “naga”, and is a evil incarnation, but also shares feature similarities with Chinese Loong.