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All of the objects featured in this guide can be found on Level Two of the Nelson-Atkins Building. Start your journey in Gallery 231!

Explore the Chinese art galleries and discover the mysterious mythical creature: the dragon! The Eastern dragon is one of the oldest and most powerful symbols in China. Dragons are still considered to be wise, good-natured and wellrespected. They represent power, strength and luck. Dragon images can be found in everyday life in China: on clothing, in songs and dances and even in opera! The Chinese character for dragon is often part of boys’ names in China.

Chinese character for dragon Spelled: Long Pronounced: loong LEFT: Detail from the Twelve Panel “Coromandel” Screen. See stop #5 for more.


STOP 1 Gallery 231

Ritual Disc with Dragon Motifs (bi) This is a famous Chinese jade carving. Jade is a precious stone that is hard to carve. This carving is very thin but has many details. Do you notice the small dragons? Dragons are popular good luck charms in China, but they can also be mischievous. For instance, dragons were believed to have the power to deliver rain for farming, but when made angry, their eyes flashed lightening and their claws stirred up storms or floods.

At Home Activity Learn more about the art in this guide by following the links provided with each object.

Draw your own mini dragon.


STOP 2 Gallery 232

Ritual Wine Vessel (fang-lei) Look closely at this vessel. Do you see a face in the designs? Can you find the dragons and birds? This is a wine vessel or container used in rituals. A ritual is a ceremony or practiced routine to honor someone or something. What do you think this vessel was used for?

Follow the Dragon Face Maze:

My Dragon My dragon’s name is My dragon likes to eat My dragon doesn’t like to eat My dragon is the size of My dragon’s powers are 4



STOP 3 Chinese Temple Room, Gallery 230

Coffered Vault with Carved Dragons There are 9 dragons on the ceiling of this temple. Can you spot them? The number 9 is a lucky number in China. A true dragon is believed to have 81 scales, equal to 9 x 9.


Can you say 9 in Chinese?

Gallery 229

Funerary Urns The dragon is often shown with a flaming pearl. Can you find which dragon has the pearl?

Chinese character for 9 Spelled: Jiu Pronounced: gee-oh

The pearl symbolizes different ideas, including knowledge, wisdom or granting wishes. Look closely at the dragons on these urns. How are they the same or different?


Twelve Panel “Coromandel” Screen

STOP 5 Chinese Hallway, Galleries 201

Dragons are all around the border of this screen. Can you find the horns on each dragon? What other animal parts do you see? According to ancient Chinese legends, dragons are made up of nine different animals.









Match each dragon part to each animal part! CLAWS





6 8







Check your dragon luck with the answers on the back.

Draw in the dragon on this vase.

STOP 6 Chinese Hallway, Galleries 201

Proper Pair of Meiping Vases The dragons on these two blue and white vases once belonged to an emperor. The dragon is a symbol for royalty in China. Look at the dragons’ faces. Can you make a face like these dragons?





45th & Oak, Kansas City, Missouri 816.751.1ART

Learn more about dragons and Chinese art and culture with these books recommended by the Kansas City Public Library.

TRUE BOOKS ABOUT CHINA For All Ages DK Eyewitness Books: Ancient China by Arthur Cotterell, edited by Laura Buller

GREAT BOOKS ABOUT DRAGONS For Younger Readers The Best Pet of All by David LaRochelle

You Wouldn’t Want to Work on the Great Wall of China!: Defenses You’d Rather Not Build by Jacqueline Morley and David Salariya, illustrated by David Antram DK Eyewitness Books: China by Hugh Sebag-Montefiore

The Boy from the Dragon Palace by Margaret Read MacDonald, illustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa Puff, the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow and Lenny Lipton, illustrated by Eric Puybaret


For Older Readers How to Train your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

For Younger Readers Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China by Ai-Ling Louie

The Seven Chinese Sisters by Kathy Tucker, illustrated by Grace Lin Cat and Rat: The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac by Ed Young For Older Readers Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang The House Baba Built: An Artist’s Childhood in China by Ed Young

Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons by Dr. Ernest Drake, edited by Dugald A. Steer Drawing Dragons: Learn How to Create Fantastic Fire-Breathing Dragons by Sandra Staple

Find other Family Gallery Guides with more interactive activities wherever you see this icon.

Connect to the Mobile Guide for more family fun! Check out a FREE mobile device at the Bloch Lobby Info Desk or use your own. Start your mobile tour at Answers from page 6–7: 1 = Horns of a Deer | 2 = Head of a Camel | 3 = Eyes of a Rabbit 4 = Ears of a Cow | 5 = Neck of a Snake | 6 = Belly of a Frog | 7 = Claws of a Hawk 8 = Palm of a Tiger | 9 = Scales of a Carp

Chinese Art Family Gallery Guide  

Family guide to the Chinese Art collection at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Chinese Art Family Gallery Guide  

Family guide to the Chinese Art collection at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.