In Chinese tradition, each year is dedicated to a specific animal. The 12-year cycle of animals are, in order, the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. They appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. In 2012, the Dragon is welcomed back after the 2011 year of the Rabbit. January 23rd, 2012 is the first of 15 days of Chinese New Year’s celebration, and also the start of the Year of the Dragon.
In Chinese culture, dragon is the only animal of the Chinese zodiac year that is not real. Legend says that it is made up of different parts of animals such as a tiger, fish, snake and an eagle. Thus, dragon is alway seen as a powerful almighty king. Chinese people associate the dragon with power, superiority and wisdom – rather a threatening evil in Western culture. Moreover, the Han Chinese call themselves the descendants of the Dragon.
With the approaching Chinese traditional lunar new year – Year of the Dragon 2012, dragon decorations are seen everywhere in China.
A man fixes a giant dragon lantern in Rushan City, east China’s Shandong Province.
Handicraftsmen make dragon lanterns in Suzhou City, east China’s Jiangsu Province.
Folk artist Cheng Fuyun shows pupils the art of dough carving in an art school in Xiangyang City, central China’s Hubei Province.
Workers make dragon lanterns in Rushan City, east China’s Shandong Province.
Folk artist Xu Jian (1st L) shows his paper-cut work of 100 dragons in Jinan, capital of east China’s Shandong Province.
(Photos from http://www.china.org.cn)