In 2008 it became clear that The Imperial Dragon Sun Loong made by Hong Kong based Master Dragon maker Lo On Kee would need replacing within 10 years. Currently this parading dragon requires extensive conservation work. Without conservation the dragon will need to retire in 2018, providing no irreversible damage occurs in 2017.
In early 2015 a “Preservation Needs Assessment” by objects conservator Jude Schahinger was commissioned by the Golden Dragon Museum. This document detailed the extensive work required to preserve the dragon and it highlighted the importance of retiring Sun Loong to ensure irreversible damage does not happen by continuing to parade the dragon in its current state.
The Golden Dragon Museum realised that an alternative may be to replace the dragon to ensure there is no interruption to the success of the Bendigo Easter Festival.
Research was conducted, searching the world for appropriate dragon makers, in particular makers who had the capabilities to make a parading dragon similar to Loong and Sun Loong in the traditional style.
In June and July 2016 representatives from the Golden Dragon Museum travelled to Hong Kong to interview several dragon makers and to visit their workshops. The group returned to Bendigo confident that a new Imperial Dragon is a real possibility for the 2018 Easter Festival.
Naming the dragon
Our oldest Imperial Dragon is known as Loong. The official name given to that Dragon by the early Chinese community was Gum Loong meaning Golden Dragon and over time the name was abbreviated to Loong. When Loong was replaced in 1970 the name for the new dragon became exactly that, Sun Loong, meaning New Dragon.
The name designated for our new Imperial Dragon is Dai Gum Loong which respects the historical context of Imperial Dragons brought to Bendigo since the 1890s – Dai meaning ‘Big’ and ‘Gum’ meaning Golden. Of course the Chinese name for Bendigo was Dai Gum San meaning Big Gold Mountain.
Fund-raising for Dai Gum Loong has now commenced and we need your help.