Last summer, my friend from Ahmad Tea gave me two free tickets to visit Buckingham Palace on its preview day.
It was the day before the palace summer opening of the State Rooms. I took my son with me for such a privileged visit as VIPs for a day. Yes, I touched the grand staircase at Buckingham Palace designed by John Nash. That was a happy day.
We visited the magnificent State Rooms and saw the unique exhibition entitled The Queen’s Coronation 1953. This was the first time since Coronation Day that such a spectacular array of fabulous dress, uniform and robes worn by the principal royal party was shown to the public.
The centrepiece of the exhibition was the dazzling coronation dress the Queen wore for the ceremony on June 2, 1953.
However, something else caught my attention. I saw the gift of two huge vases given by China’s Last Emperor, five-year-old Puyi (emperor of Qing dynasty), to King George V and Queen Mary on the occasion of their coronation in 1911. Soon afterwards, Puyi was deposed.
The pair of beautiful vases are huge, measuring 217.0 x 80.0 cm.
Materials: Cloisonné enamel, gilt metal
Description: Pair of large, ovoid, cloisonné enamel vases, with bronze dragon handles, decorated with dragons on a green scale-pattern ground.
The oriental dragons portrayed on the vases are playful, sweet and even smiling. They are serpent-like, in gold, benevolent, powerful, typical qualities of Chinese dragons.
St George’s Day and dragon
Today is St George’s Day – England’s National Day. It brings me to this topic: When you think of a dragon, what images spring to your mind?
Do you think of a fire-breathing, scaly dragon? Are the dragons evil? Perhaps you may think dragons need to be defeated.
Chinese dragon versus western dragon
When the west describes China or the Chinese as ‘dragon’, the cultural connotations are different.
Cultural differences can be subtle. Different concepts of dragons have been firmly embedded in different cultures, causing misunderstandings. Some Chinese scholars therefore suggested a new translation for this Chinese mythical creature ‘Long’ (written as 龙 in simplified form, or 龍 in Traditional form) — currently translated as ‘dragon’ or ‘Chinese dragon’. Some scholars think that the Chinese dragon should be renamed as ‘Loong’ to avoid misunderstanding.
Chinese people proudly call themselves the descendants of dragon.
Chinese dragons (龙 pronounced as lóng) are benevolent, creators of wellbeing. They are mighty, bringing fortune and prosperity. Chinese dragons are auspicious creatures with dignity.
‘Dragon’ is also used in Chinese names. ‘Dragon’ is one of the most favourite words for names, especially for boys.
You may know these 2 famous Chinese actors: Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee. Their stage names in Chinese all carry a ‘Dragon’: Jackie Chan is 成龙 (pronounce as chéng lóng), which means ‘Becoming a dragon.’ Bruce Lee’s Chinese name is 李小龙 (lǐ xiǎolóng), which means ‘Little Dragon’.
Fabulous creatures at Hereford Cathedral’s chained library
We visited Hereford Cathedral last weekend to see its unique seventeenth-century Chained Library, still with all its chains, rods and locks intact.
The cathedral’s earliest and most important book is the eighth-century Hereford Gospels – one of 229 medieval manuscripts which now occupy two bays of the Chained Library.
I was intrigued by a few books on display in a glass cabinet. There are some drawings showing fabulous creatures, including monstrous dragons. The display shows that dragon is a natural enemy and is considered to be the intermediate stage between a demon and the devil. It explains that in literature and mythology, there has been innumerable battles between gods and dragons, saints and dragons and knights and dragons. The best well-known one is the battle mentioned in the Book of Revelation in the Bible:
Revelation 12:7-9 New International Version (NIV)
7. Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9. The great dragon was hurled down — that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
I hope I haven’t bored you with stories of dragons today. I quite like to hear your views on dragons in different cultures. Do you have your favourite dragon in song, literature, and mythology?
Lastly, don’t forget:
Chandler’s Ford District Scouts – St. George’s Day Parade
Sunday 27th April 2014 2pm – 4pm; parade begins at 2.30pm.
Starting and finishing at Merdon School with the service at Chandler’s Ford Methodist Church.
This will be the final St. George’s Day Parade for the retiring District Commissioner, Lyn Darbyshire.