Longtaitou is a Chinese Festival that is held on the second day of the second lunar month of the year. Also known as “Dragon Head Raising Festival”, “Qinglong Festival” or “Double second Festival”, it is a celebration linked to traditional agricultural customs.
It is believed that on this day plants start to form buds and the temperature starts to rise as Winter begins to fade into Spring. For thousands of years, farmers would mark Longtaitou by praying for fine weather, good luck and ultimately a bountiful harvest.
Chinese Dragons depicted flying through clouds on a pair of 19th Century yellow ground porcelain vases
The name “Longtaitou” has fascinating origins in the field of Astronomy. In the Eastern sky, there are seven clusters of stars that together resemble the outline and form of a Dragon. During the long, hard Winter months, these constellations are hidden behind the Horizon, however around the same time as Longtaitou, the two stars that represent the horns of the Dragon start to re-emerge for the first time. Thus, the “Raising of the Dragons Head”.
In the Western world, we have traditionally associated Dragons as a threat but in China and across South Eastern Asia, the Dragon is friendly and a symbol of good luck. He is the Ruler of wind and rain and therefore those involved in agriculture worship the Dragon and offer gifts such as food in hopeful return for a good harvest.
Longtaitou takes place around the same time as Jingzhe which translates as “the awakening of the insects.” Another symbol of the arrival of Spring, many hibernating species will rise from their slumbers as the weather starts to warm up, often with the arrival of the first rains.
An Iron Jizai (fully articulated) Okimono of a Praying Mantis
Longtaitou traditions include eating Noodles (in fact, on this day, Noodles are often renamed “Dragon Moustache”, eating dumplings (“Dragon Ears”) or having a haircut to symbolise the start of a new Season. Some areas in Northern China celebrate the festival with a Dragon Dance.
Wishing all our friends, customers and followers across China and the rest of the world a Happy Longtaitou Festival and a prosperous harvest this year.
Close up of a carved wood Jizai Okimono of a Dragon
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