Year of the Dragon


Long before it was imbued with symbolic meaning in the zodiac and beyond, the dragon was an ambiguous silhouette adorning art forms—a sheer convention of imagination, says J. Keith Wilson, curator of ancient Chinese art at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art. 


“In the end, the invisible dragon of nature is, ironically, the most real and tangible of all. After its deep winter slumber, this creator awakens in spring and rises to the sky to provide the earth with new life,” wrote Wilson. “In this context, the dragon is a pulsating force, the world’s activating agent.”

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