HomeCommunityChinese dragon protected San Francisco's Union Square

Chinese dragon protected San Francisco’s Union Square

Photos and video by Almira Baldoza, AsAmNews Intern

As quickly as a blue and white porcelain Chinese dragon flew in to mark the Lunar New Year, it flew away.

The sculpture by Qinghui Jung at Union Square was one of five dragon sculptures that graced San Francisco from January 28 until March 2. The other four dragon figures were made of wood to highlight the Year of the Wooden Dragon on the Chinese zodiac calendar.

AsAmNews asked about the creative process in conceptualizing the design.

“I wanted to combine elements from Chinese culture and the New Year celebration, something that can resonate with most Chinese people,” Jung told AsAmNews by email. “I am a big fan of ceramics and am always fascinated by the classic blue and white porcelain. They have been widely used in China since the Yuan Dynasty and are now well known across the world. Almost every Chinese family has bowls or plates that are in blue and white porcelain style.”

Born in Shanghai, Jung now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her partner after stints residing in New York City and Paris.

She also has a weekly comic strip which she distributes through Instagram. She describes the strip as her journal about her career transition.

Most recently she was a data science manager at Meta.

“For me, a blue and white dragon brings back fond memories of my family. I remember eating my grandpa’s homemade food from blue and white porcelain. Every time I finished the food, a little dragon would appear at the bottom of the bowl. I think a lot of Chinese people in the U.S., if they’re part of the old generation, will also recognize that. On the other hand, I gave it a modern twist through the cartoonish symbols on its body so it could appeal to the younger generation.”

The dragon statue was designed by first being drafted on an iPad using the Procreate app and finalized in Adobe Illustrator. All design has meaning so AsAmNews asked the artist of the meaning behind the design.

“The blue and white color theme symbolizes the universe and harmony and also pays tribute to the classic Chinese art form. The dragon is filled with symbols related to Chinese New Year: golden coins, lanterns, red envelopes, ingots, firecrackers, fireworks, the symbols for double-happiness (喜喜) and good luck ‘Fu’ (福). They all have good meanings and symbolize fortune and good luck. In addition, I added some elements from SF Chinatown: the Dragon Gate, and the Pagoda, so viewers know it’s from SF.”

Since there are a lot of dragon designs, AsAmNews asked what makes this dragon different from the other dragons?

  • Dragon sculpture rear side view 2024
  • dragon sculpture side view 2024

“The blue and white color-theme – they are not commonly used for celebrating Chinese New Year. By the way, I didn’t know how the other dragons would turn out until I read the results from the organizer. It’s a call-for-artist submission that I participated in. I hope my design will remind viewers of something familiar or something close to them during the New Year celebration. For those who are new to Chinese culture, I hope the statue can bring them some joy and inspire them to learn more about our culture and history.”

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

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