Our Historic Lion Dance Drum

(Photo credit State Library of Victoria)

One of the thrills of having an historic parade collection is spotting in old photographs items that are currently on display in the Golden Dragon Museum being used in their original context. This photo taken by an “Argus” newspaper photographer c.1943 is captioned “a Chinese lion from Bendigo outside the Seamen’s Union, Elizabeth Street [Melbourne]” The large drum pictured at left has been identified with one that can currently be seen in the “Awakening of the Dragon” display in the museum’s Sun Loong gallery. The fate of the lion is at this stage unknown.

Dancing Lion SLV Drum detail

Some notes on the inscription on the body of the drum: made by 廣棧  Guăng Zhàn (Broad Warehouse), at 单水口 Dān Shuĭ Kŏu (Single Water Mouth), 中山路 Zhōng Shān Lù (Middle Mountain Road). Likely the Danshuikou in Kaiping, Guangdong (one of the ‘See Yap’), a town which does have a Zhongshan Road and is in an area with historic connections to Bendigo. The town’s name does not seem to be common, increasing the likelihood that this is the item’s place of origin. Also of interest is that other objects in the BCA collection the manufacturer of which is known were made in the metropolitan areas of Guangzhou and Hong Kong. This is an unusual example of a named See Yap firm on an item in our processional collection.

2016-01-28T23:16:34+00:00