Papier-mache dragon - Ancient China Projects
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Papier-mache Dragons

Chinese Dragon
Chinese dragon, made by kids at
Laurelhurst School, Portland Oregon

June 2016 - Beginning at least as early as the Chou Dynasty, around 1100 BC, dragons like this one were the symbols of the Emperors in China. In the Taoist view of the world, dragons were part of the yang. In China, people think of dragons as good, and respect them: they get mad if a picture shows someone killing a dragon.

To make this dragon, tape small balloons or crushed balls of paper together with masking tape to make the rough shape of the dragon. Then cover the whole thing with a thick layer of papier-mache, let it dry, and paint it red. When the red dries, paint on the scales.

Other activities:

    * Paper-making
    * Making a compass
    * Making a kite

Bibliography and further reading about Chinese art:

The British Museum Book of Chinese Art, by Jessica Rawson and others (1996). Rawson is a curator at the British Museum, and she uses the collection of the British Museum to illustrate this book. Library Journal calls it "easily the best introductory overview of Chinese art to appear in years".

Art in China (Oxford History of Art Series), by Craig Clunas (1997). Not specifically , but a good introduction to the spirit of Chinese art. Warning: this one is not arranged in chronological order. Instead, it has chapters on sculpture, calligraphy, and so on.

More ancient China projects
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
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