Restoring and Preserving a Dragon

A couple of days ago I wrote a post about the magnificent Chinese dragons that are so much part of the history of my home town Bendigo in Central Victoria, Australia. If you missed this post please click here.

In this post you would have read about Bendigo's oldest dragon Loong who first appeared in 1892 in the Bendigo Easter Procession on the traditional lands of the Dja Dja Wurrung and the Taungurung Peoples of the Kulin Nation. He was retired in 1970 and now is 130+ years old and the oldest Imperial Dragon in the world!

As you can imagine if you are anywhere close to 130 years old - a little occasional repair is required!

Here is a wonderful video by Paul Burston of the Loong Conservation Project made in 2022. Please take the few minutes to watch and learn how a dragon has become a central part of a multi-cultural community and how he has marked time for so many of us who grew up watching him on Easter Monday.

The Loong Conservation Project

Loong is recognised as the oldest intact imperial dragon in the world. He was crafted by the Sing Cheung workshop in the city of Foshan on the Pearl River near Guangzhou in southern China in the late 1800s and is an excellent early surviving example of master craftmanship and tradition. His name simply means ‘dragon’, but historically he was also referred to by the Chinese community as Gum Loong (Golden Dragon) and Moo Loong (Dancing Dragon).

Loong is believed to have made his first processional appearance in 1892 and remained the main attraction in Bendigo’s annual Easter Parade until his retirement in 1970.

Loong is an object of great value and significance to the community and his survival today is due to their constant care, but in 2021 a conservation review discovered he was in significant need of stabilising work to repair damage and slow deterioration.

The Loong Conservation Project is a 12-month project supported by the Victorian Government through the Living Heritage Grants Program. The project was delivered by The University of Melbourne’s Grimwade Conservation Services team and student conservators working in partnership with the Bendigo Chinese Association to complete conservation work.

Loong is on display at the Golden Dragon Museum in Bendigo, Australia.

Learn more about the Master of Cultural Materials Conservation course at The University of Melbourne by clicking here.

Archival images and footage courtesy of the Golden Dragon Museum, Bendigo Chinese Association and Public Record Office of Victoria.
VPRS 14517 Negatives of Photographs (Publication Branch)/P0001/50, U358; VPRS 12903 Photographic Negatives: Railways: Box systems/P0001, 648/02

Video by Paul Burston, 2022.

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