1979 HY's Perfect Children: The Dragon Dance


Dragon Dance


The children have bright eyes that are wide apart, as if taking in everything they can of the world around them, like intelligent children do. They are chinless; chubby cheeked; with straight, short, slightly droopy eyebrows; tiny noses; simple curved ears and wide smiling mouths. Their round heads are bigger than that of a real child and of course, like toddlers, none of them have any sign of a neck. The tassels for tying the hair bobble as the children move about. They have short legs and stout healthy bodies of toddlers. Although they need to move quickly, with suppleness and control as required in the activities they are engaged in, they give the impression that they would have the unsteady gait and appealing awkwardness of young children.

All the children are dressed in loose brightly colored tunics with wide sleeves and tied at the waist by strings. Both the edges of the sleeve and the collar are trimmed with parallel black and white lines. They have on loose pants that allow just the red tips of the shoes to be shown. A simpler version of this clothing is still being used in Chinese marshal art, karate in Japan and taekwondo in Korea. Although it was an ancient costume, it suggests action and liveliness as being related to today’s work out clothing.

Huang Yao had found his ‘perfect’ child; all his paintings of children from then onwards display the same facial and body characteristics.

The painting in below dated 1979 was painted when Huang Yao just moved to Kuala Lumpur to be near his son and family. He was indeed very happy to be with his grandchildren again. Can you feel his love for children in this painting of five children doing the dragon dance? The dragon dance is an art that involves the cooperation of many people, it has the same origins as the dragon boat races, but expressed on land with lit candles in the body of the dragon. No one has ever seen a real dragon. But in the subconscious of the Chinese people, they think that the dragon has the horns of a deer, face of a horse, body of a snake, has fish scales, claws, a beard and long whisk-ers (Huang, 2000 The Dragon Dance).

This is one of Huang Yao’s favorite topics for a group of at least 5 children. The others were ‘The Hawk Snatches the Chicks’, ‘Blind Man’s Bluff’ and ‘Dragon Boat Race’. These topics were painted many times over the years.  The children in the dragon dance are so endearingly attrac-tive and delightfully charming. Huang Yao did a set of 44 paintings in similar style, they can be considered as documentation of children’s games and activities of the past.


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