Dragon Boat - Rowing since Remote Antiquity

Dragon Boat - Rowing since Remote Antiquity

Dragon boat racing can be traced back to the Warring States period (475-221BC), and was derived from the sacrifice to the totem of the ethnic group in southern China. They thought the Chinese dragon was an auspicious creature and had the power to control water, rainfall, typhoons, and floods. Therefore they rowed dragon boats to imitate dragons swimming in the sea and hoped that the real dragon would appear and exert its power. In that way, people prayed for good weather and peace for next year.

Before the dragon boat racing starts, people hold a ceremony to plead with the dragon for protection. Then, after the drumming, players take part in the race in the dragon-shaped canoes. Outside of the race, other players perform programs with a strong rhythm. Sometimes, people also like to drive the canoes to visit neighbors and present gifts.

What is the Dragon Boat?

A typical dragon boat is different from other boats, in that it is a long and narrow canoe about 50-100 feet in length, with a width of about 5.5 feet, accommodating paddlers seated side by side. It is made of wood and decorated with a colorful carved dragon head in the prow, a dragon tail at the end, and painted with dragon scales on the body. There are also gongs, drums, and flags on the boat.

Where can you see Dragon boat races in China?

Guangzhou International Dragon Boat Invitational Tournament

The Guangzhou International Dragon Boat Invitational Tournament is reputed to be one of the best competitions in the world. In the fifth month of lunar calendar, the Dragon Boat Race dominates Guangzhou. The goal of popularizing the dragon boat is to propagate the folk culture and spread their spirit of unity and cooperation. There are more than 100 dragon boats in the competition every year.

Address: The Reach of the Zhujiang River from the Haiyin Bridge to the Guangzhou Bridge.

Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Race

Hong Kong is the cradle of the modern international Dragon Boat Race. The Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Race started in the year 1976, and is one of the largest and most boisterous international competitions in Hong Kong.

Address: Victoria Harbor, Kowloon, Hong Kong.

Yueyang Dragon Boat Race

Yueyang is the birthplace of the Dragon Boat and an historical and cultural city. During the festival, dragon boat cruises and competitions are held on the Miluo River. There is also a splendid performance, including Paramotors, water scooters, and the folk opera. After that, you can also visit the Dongting Lake and the Junshan Islan.

Address: Bank of the Miluo River, Yueyang, Hunan Province.

Dragon Boat Race in Zhenyuan County

Zhengyuan County is the ancient and cultural place located on the bank of the Wuyang River. In the traditional culture, the Dragon Boat Festival is a carnival day in the county. In the early morning, after performing the sacrifice to the dragon, paddlers will drag the head of the dragon to the foot of the mountain. To the accompaniment of traditional instruments, the curtain rises for singing and dancing.

Address: Zhenyuan County, Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture, Guizhou Province.

Hangzhou Xixi Dragon Boat Festival Day

During the festival, every family likes to take part in the race. The important thing is not competing, but the festive mood. It is fun to watch with more than 10 strong paddlers in a small dragon boat and a lot of people fall into the shallow water. In the loud laughter, the competition becomes even more interesting.

Address: Zhoujia Village, Xihu District Hangzhou.

By Shirley Li
Web Editor