Chinese dragon all set to rock
At Chinese New Year celebrations every year, it is the impressive show of colourful lion and dragon dances that many people look forward to.Nakhon Sawan has long been associated with one of Thailand's biggest Chinese New Year celebrations. To mark this special occasion, ethnic Chinese stage a number of colourful dragon and lion performances every year. But where do they come from?
Bandhit Tomorn and his father Lek Tomorn, the owner of Loog Chao Phraya Troupe, have diligently been making the heads and the costumes of the dragons and lions almost every day. Their products are a rare art and are sold to various customers across the country.
"I learnt this art from my dad," Bandhit said. "He picked up the skills from my grandpa."
Bandhit's father has now elaborately designed the heads of the dragons and lions while Bandhit has worked on the dazzling costumes of their tails.
A student of law at Siam University, Bandhit, 31, said the art of dragon/lion-making requires great skill and neatness.
"We can produce just one lion head each month," he said, "The dragon head takes us about one and a half months."
He said each dragon/lion head costs at least a five-figure sum. Sometimes, it fetches a six-figure amount. Some components of the dragons and lions are imported from China.
He is not just a skilled artisan in the art of dragon/lion making, but is also an exceptional dancer.
The Loog Chao Phraya (Children of the Chao Phraya) Troupe is famous. It has been contracted to stage the dragon/lion dances at many events such as house-warming rituals and opening ceremonies for companies/shops throughout the year. But they have been most sought after during the Chinese New Year.
"I practise the dance moves every now and then," Bandhit said.
At the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations, his troupe will stage a performance in Nakhon Sawan.
"The dancer who moves the dragon/lion head is not just a person who can make perfect moves in accompaniment with the drum sounds; he must also strictly observe religious precepts," Bandhit said.
He will show his moves with the dragon his family has made, in Nakhon Sawan, very soon.