the china dragon

The design for the dragon character in “Tea” continues to elude me, but I think I may have found the essence of the American pop culture “Chinese” dragon (as opposed to dragons that are actually Chinese).  It was last week, on the midway at the fair, as storm clouds loomed.

The China Dragon

China Dragon detail

There is something so gloriously lurid about a cheap ride on a fairground midway.  This is cultural appropriation (if that’s the right word) at it’s most horrible, but also its most oddly innocent.  Plug it into a massive power cable and light up all those flashing lights in red and gold, and you’re in another world where political correctness has never even been imagined.  If those Chinese characters are legible, I’d love to know what they say. (Read Wolfie’s comment below for a translation. ) Of course they may be (to quote P.J. O’Rourke) vividly bogus.  As is the entire midway.

China Dragon
dragon references

But, hey, a person has to take her dragon picture references anywhere she can find them.  And these are the most dragon-y Chinese restaurant placemat dragons you may ever see, with their details pared down so that a few sketches will turn them into some pretty interesting cartoons.

(all images © 2012 Pam Bliss)

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One Response to the china dragon

  1. Wolfie says:

    The character means “safe”, “cheap”, or “worry”, depending on the use, at least in Japanese. Most of the time the borrowed character has the same meaning (though there are notable exceptions- the same two-kanji combo meaning “letter” in Japanese means “toilet paper” in Chinese). Extra fun fact- the bottom half of the character is “woman”, so draw your own conclusions about the sexism inherent in Confucian thinking…

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