New Book Offers Unique History Of The Chinese Dragon

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MIDDLESEX COUNTY – The Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission and its Folklife Program for New Jersey celebrated the Year of the Dragon in 2012 with the creation of a unique publication that explores the ancient traditions of the Chinese people and the Chinese dragon. This 24-page, full-color monograph is fascinating to read, and stunning to look at, with images of 20 dragon paintings by master artist Hing K. Cheung.

Entitled The Year of the Dragon, the publication was written by Hongyan Park Wu, a New Jersey resident and community leader, who is the volunteer president of the Beijing Alliance of NJ. He wrote in partnership with Anna M. Aschkenes, executive director of the Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission and founder of the Folklife Program for NJ.

Aschkenes also designed the book and completed all the graphic work. The paintings, which illustrate the book’s pages, are part of the life’s work of Hing K. Cheung. The professional photographer for the publication was William Lee of Edison. The publication is offered to the public, without charge, one book per family.

A companion booklet published by the Cultural and Heritage Commission contains  Cheung’s line-drawings of parts and pieces of a dragon. These were done especially for the commission’s audience and readers of The Year of the Dragon.

Persons calling or emailing a request for The Year of the Dragon will automatically receive both the full-color book and the booklet on How to Draw a Dragon. Requests may be made via email at culturalandheritage@co.middlesex.nj.us or by calling the commission’s main number at 1-732-745-4489.

Western societies have stories of mythical, ferocious dragons, doing battle with brave dragon slayers. Chinese dragons, in contrast, are benevolent creatures that bring life-sustaining rains, help in battle, and are part of everyday life. To the Chinese people, the dragon represents auspicious power and is often ascribed divine attributes.

Funding is provided by the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, with assistance from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of National Endowment for the Arts.

Hongyan Wu was born and raised in Beijing. He is a community leader who has spent countless hours researching and documenting Chinese cultural traditions practiced outside of China. He is the President of the Beijing Alliance of New Jersey, an 800-member affiliate that furthers cultural exchanges among those with an interest in the culture of Beijing and cultural traditions found throughout China.

Hing K. Cheung, a resident of New Jersey, was born in Hong Kong. He is a master painter who teaches brush painting for the Commission’s Folklife Program.

“I commend The Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission for making this important part of art and history available to our residents,” said Freeholder Charles E. Tomaro, chair of the county’s Business Development and Education Committee.

The Year of the Dragon monograph is the fourth in a series called In the Traditions of Our Ancestors. These are original monographs produced from fieldwork by the commission’s Folklife Program for New Jersey. Publications are offered without charge, but are printed in limited quantities. To learn about or to order any of these titles, go to the Commission’s web site: http://co.middlesex.nj.us/culturalheritage

Middlesex County Freeholder Director Christopher D. Rafano said: “Middlesex County has a wealth of history and culture and it is our responsibility as elected officials to ensure that that history is not only made available to our residents but is celebrated and preserved.”


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