Venerable dragon teaching his son


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Father’s Day was set up to honour fatherhood and secure paternal bonds. One very potent motif in the repertoire of traditional Chinese pictorial culture in this regard is the image of a magnificent brawny dragon facing a smaller young dragon in the background of cloud and waves. It symbolises the passing of knowledge and experience from one generation to another, which shows how the society and dominant ideology treasure the paternal advice.


Fig 1: jade carving, Yuan dynasty (1271–1368), courtesy of Wuhan Museum, China

Fig 2-3: porcelain vase with underglaze blue and overglaze yellow enamel, Yongzheng period (1723–35), Qing dynasty, courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Fig 4-6: porcelain globular vase with overglaze enamelled decoration, Qianlong period (1736–1795), Qing dynasty, courtesy of Sotheby’s Hong Kong 2019

Fig 7: porcelain paste box with overglaze gilt and iron-red decoration and underglaze blue decoration, Jiaqing period (1796–1820), Qing dynasty, courtesy of Palace Museum, Beijing

Fig 8-9: cloisonné enamelled vase, 18th century, courtesy of Sotheby’s Auction House, New York, 24 March 2022, Lot 275

Fig 10: wood carving on a cabinet door, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), courtesy of Shanghai Museum, China

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