Origins

The Limehouse Chinatown Dragon sculpture is a fitting celebration of the Chinese community that lived in the vicinity of West India Dock Road for slightly less than a century from the 1880s till the 1960s.

Salter Street Dragon by Peter Dunn, 1997

Chinese porcelain vase with dragon motif

Chinese porcelain vase with dragon motif

 

The two magnificent scaly dragons chasing each others’ tails were created in 1996 by the artist Peter Dunn as part of a public art project which worked with the local community.  The Chinese dragon is a symbol of good fortune and fertility, it lives in the east in the plane of the sunrise and optimism.  In this form as a circle race they embody the power of unity and renewal.

 

But Western culture has habitually seen these legendary beasts as evil personified. As the East celebrates the dragon so the West celebrates the dragon slayers. This divergence of view is reflected in Western opinions about the Chinese.  These were not all positive.