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Fantastical flying beasts

Major Beijing exhibition traces history of the dragon through 8,000 years of imagery, Wang Ru reports.

By WANG RU | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-18 10:19
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A gold crown decorated with dragon element of the Warring States Period (475-221 BC).[Photo provided by Jiang Dong/China Daily]

In China, the dragon has special and enduring cultural connotations. With this year marking the Year of Dragon, the fifth animal in the traditional Chinese zodiac, there are dragon decorations everywhere. In fact, the first dragon images were being made about 8,000 years ago. Since then, a dazzling number of exquisite artifacts have been created using this motif.

An ongoing exhibition at the Chinese Archaeological Museum in Beijing has gathered together many such artifacts. The exhibition kicked off on May 1, and will run until Dec 31. It is a display of 112 objects unearthed at 30 important archaeological sites around the country.

These include the Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which dates back for 4,300 to 5,300 years in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province; the Erlitou Site, widely believed to be a late capital of the Xia Dynasty (c. 21st century-16th century BC) in Luoyang, Henan province; the Yinxu Ruins, a late Shang Dynasty (c. 16th century-11th century BC) capital in Anyang, Henan, and the Sanxingdui Site in Guanghan, Sichuan province, which dates back to over 3,000 years.

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