Gong Xi Fa Cai! (Happy New Year!) The colour and intrigue of the Chinese lunar New Year celebrations in the Far North goes on show at Cairns Museum this month with the Lion and Dragons exhibition from February 6 to April 17.
Harking back to the early days of Chinese settlement in Cairns around 145 years ago following the decline of the Palmer River goldrush, the exhibition provides insight into Chinese and Chinese Australian culture locally through the interpretation of costumes, instruments and practices associated with the performance of the Lion and Dragon Dance during Chinese New Year celebrations.
Suzanne Gibson, manager of Cairns Museum, said a mix of historic and contemporary items from the Cairns and District Chinese Association Inc. (CADCAI) collection would be displayed.
“Cairns Museum is delighted to partner with CADCAI to present the colour and sound of Chinese New Year celebrations in a Far North Queensland context to our visitors,” Ms Gibson said.
“Colourful lion and dragon performances accompanied by the sounds of drums, cymbals and gong, and the short, sharp shocks of firecrackers are a feature of modern Chinese New Year celebrations in the west.
“But our pioneers back in the 1800s would have observed this same tradition in Grafton Street, historic site of Cairns’ Chinatown. These early Chinese immigrants, mostly men from the Pearl River Delta region of Southern China (Guangzhou), brought with them their own folklore and social and spiritual practices.”
Lions and dragons are steeped in Chinese mythology and the Lunar New Year festival goes back more than 3000 years. The lion represents power, wisdom and superiority and, like Chinese dragons, their appearance at Chinese New Year and other celebrations are believed to bring prosperity and good fortune.
“Come and share the excitement and join us at Cairns Museum to farewell the Year of the Rat and welcome the Year of the Ox,” Ms Gibson said.
For more information about activities and becoming a member visit the Museum website now at www.cairnsmuseum.org.au or phone 4051 5582 or email .