Bendigo: Golden Dragon Museum

Christmas festivities over, I’ve gone back over my photos of Bendigo. An unexpected delight was the Golden Dragon Museum.

The majority of the Chinese who came to the Victorian goldfields were from Canton Province. Some returned, taking their wealth with them, and some sent money back to their families but stayed. It was from these beginnings that a vibrant Chinese community developed in Bendigo. The museum  presents their history from the gold rush of the 1850s to the present day.

The museum is in the centre of town and so it was an easy wander through the gardens to get to it.

The Dai Gum San forecourt of the museum

I began with Yi Yuan gardens and the Guan Yin Temple

Guan Yin (Kuan Yin) Temple honours the Goddess of Mercy

Gateway to the gardens

Feeling quite serene after my visit to the gardens, I headed across to the museum.

In the foyer is this red lacquer and gilded altar table, inlaid with intricate carvings of the the goings-on of the household. Stunning.

It was a surprise to push through the doors and find such a large space. I was very comfortable. I can never get enough red.

Sun Loong, the world’s longest Imperial Dragon
The community’s collection of dragons

Around the walls are dioramas, scenes from life on the gold fields.

A typical Chinese kitchen

Through another door was the most mind-boggling display of Chinese artefacts. These were my favourites.

This is the Dragon Chariot of Ten Thousand Sages, made entirely of Serpentine Jade. Stone chariots were used on ceremonial occasions by Emperors, Empresses and Empress Dowagers during the Qing Dynasty. It weighs around 2.2 tonnes. 

This wedding litter is from Bi Liam Temple in Taiwan. Bridal chairs were used to carry the bride from her home to the wedding ceremony. A phoenix is carved into each side, the phoenix being a yin or feminine creature.

Chinese marriage beds were often designed as a complete unit, creating an intimate bed within a small room. This one consists of a double bed with an outer platform, the entrance consisting of three carved arches. The arches depict classical love stories, which would help things along, I’m sure. 

A pair of throne chairs in wood, jade and ivory for a female and male, embellished with large white elephants carrying the Buddhist symbol.

This lovely creation is for the sole purpose of carrying two drums. The gilded wooden divider is hand-carved with scenes from Peking opera. The canopy is of purple silk, embroidered with gold couching.

I just loved this decorative screen and I want one. Would probably have to get a bigger house to fit it in but it would be worth it.

There was so much more to the museum and I’m going back in the near future for another look. I couldn’t get over the intricacy of the carvings and decorations on everything I saw, and every one has a symbolic meaning or tells a story.

 

 

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