Vandals Have Targeted the World's "oldest" Chinese Parade Dragon in an Australian Museum - Latest Global News

Vandals Have Targeted the World’s “oldest” Chinese Parade Dragon in an Australian Museum

Australian police are searching for two people over the alleged destruction of a centuries-old Chinese parade dragon and other valuable artifacts at a museum in a small town known for its historical ties to China.

According to police and the museum director, the vandalism occurred last week at the Golden Dragon Museum in Bendigo, about 100 miles northwest of Melbourne.

Victoria Police said a man and woman are suspected of damaging art and historical items worth A$100,000 (US$66,900) before driving away in a silver Toyota Prado on May 5.

“Investigators believe that the duo used a liquid to damage several statues and paintings,” police said, adding that the suspects were with two children at the time.

Among the artifacts attacked was Loong – described by the museum as the “oldest complete imperial processional dragon in the world.”

“Loong” is a sacred mythical creature in Chinese culture – usually translated as dragon in English – and is often the protagonist in festivals and rituals.

Dragon dances have been documented at ceremonial events since the Han Dynasty (202 BC to 220 AD) and often involve teams of dancers maneuvering a giant dragon puppet through the streets.

Bendigo, currently a city of around 100,000 people, has had Chinese residents for more than a century. Chinese immigrants first arrived in the mid-19th century during the Victorian Gold Rush, primarily from southern China, and at one point made up 20 percent of the city’s residents.

Miners and merchants brought their customs and culture with them to a place they once called “Dai Gum San” — or “Great Gold Mountain,” according to Bendigo Tourism.

To this day, a large kite parade is held every Easter to raise money for a local hospital.

The Golden Dragon Museum opened in 1991 “to document, interpret and preserve Chinese heritage in Australia,” according to the museum’s website.

Loong, which dates back to 1901, was regularly paraded through the streets of Victoria until it was phased out in the 1970s.

Hugo Leschen, CEO of the museum, told CNN that they found an oily liquid running down Loong’s nose.

His successor Sun Loong, who took over the Bendigo parade until he also retired in 2019, was also damaged, Leschen said, pointing to spots on the second dragon’s tongue.

Other parts of the museum were also attacked.

Security camera footage broadcast on CNN affiliate Nine News showed a woman in a white sweater and gray cap splashing liquid on a Buddhist altar. In the clip, a man stood next to her.

Stains were also found on at least 35 paintings and several statues of Chinese deities in the temple and in a garden managed by the museum next door, Leschen said.

“In light of these further attacks, it is now clear that this was not a random act of mindless vandalism, but rather a planned and sustained malicious attack on various historical, cultural and religious sites for unknown reasons,” he said.

The Chinese Community Council of Australia condemned the vandalism in a statement. While police have not yet commented on the motives, the group fears that the act was “possibly racially motivated.”

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