Happy Chinese New Year

Today is the beginning of the new lunar year in China. As the most important holiday in the country, people there have already been celebrating Chinese New Year for a couple of weeks. And not just at parties. Here divers dance underwater at an aquarium in Beijing.

chinese new year

photo: China Daily/Reuters

This year we are celebrating the Year of the Dragon, marked by excitement, exhilaration and intensity. To the Chinese, the dragon symbolizes power, ambition, heroism, divinity, success, optimism and nobility which is why they have embraced the dragon in many art forms over thousands of years.

chinese new year
Ming Dynasty red lacquer Sutra box at the Metropolitan Museum

Unlike our western dragons which are frequently associated with negative qualities, eastern dragons are beautiful, wise, and kind, are worshipped and even have shrines devoted to them.

chinese new year
Qing dynasty silk dragon robe at the Metropolitan Museum (not currently on display)

Especially following the past Year of the Rabbit which was represented by calm, this year is all about drama. People born under this sign are supposedly dynamic and charismatic, strong and  energetic and include Al Pacino, Bruce Lee, Diana Krall, Fats Domino, Freud, Gregory Peck, Joan of Arc, John Lennon, Raquel Welch, Reese Witherspoon, Sandra Bullock, and Shirley Temple. I thought it might be fun to look at a few ways we can honor the year of the dragon in our own lives.

If I were having a Chinese New Year’s party, I would definitely consider this chic Chinese Medallion invitation from Tiny Prints.

chinese new year

Or for my everyday stationery library I love these elegant cards from Thornwillow

chinese new year

There are many ways to incorporate the strength of the dragon into your decor. I’ve always loved this Mottahedeh Blue Dragon pattern. This little shell dish from William-Wayne would be as perfect on the table as it would bedside.

chinese new year

These beautiful Varga dragon votives, also from William-Wayne, could find a happy home many places around the house as well.

chinese new year

These intricately embroidered Belgian linen hand towels from Gracious Style could be a lovely addition to a powder room

chinese new year

How about adding some fire to the dragon’s power with these antique brass andirons from 1stDibs. They could be fun in a library with a heraldic theme.

chinese new year

Garden stools are incredibly stylish and practical. I have them one in my bedroom next to my reading chair. These dragon motif medallion stools from Clayton Gray have a great vintage finish and can be used indoor or out.

chinese new year

I adore these fabulous Dragon Temple Jars from Taigan. From the mid 19th century, they are elegant, decorative and versatile.

chinese new year

In terms of fabrics, Schumacher’s classic Chiang Mai Dragon is an obvious choice. In several appealing colorways, it’s also available as wall covering.

chinese new year

Even though there is no image of a dragon, I just had to include Bennison’s Dragon flower, since it is one of my all time favorite fabrics.

chinese new year

For more serious dragon decor additions, one might consider this spectacular George I Japanned cabinet on silvered stand coming up at auction in London tomorrow at Christie’s. The scenes on the doors depict chinamen fighting a lion and a dragon.

chinese new year

or perhaps this exquisite Belle Epoque silver gilt and jade vase with dragon handles that will be in Doyle’s decorative arts auction next month.

chinese new year

If you’re looking to take the dragon theme to heart, you could sport this Paloma Picasso Chinese Zodiac Dragon charm.

Paloma Picasso gold Zodiac Dragon charm at Tiffany

Or paint the town red with Chanel’s Le Vernis Nail Polish Dragon 475

Chanel red nail polish

Shiseido’s shimmering rouge sheer lip color in Dragon

Shiseido lip rouge

or NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl

Nars lip pencil

Was your guy born in any of the times below?

Then he is a Dragon, in which case, you might want to use it as an excuse to treat him to these John Hardy Naga silver dragon cufflinks

John Hardy cufflinks

or this Salvatore Ferragamo Dragon tie – it comes in yellow as well but I think the red is much more appropriate.

Ferragamo tie

And not to forget the kids, here a few dragon items that have been popular in my house over the years.

Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon – the classic fantasy trilogy of Elmer Elevator and the flying baby dragon.

The Inheritance Cycle, starting with Eragon.

Ways for kids to celebrate Year of the Dragon

or if you’re anything like us, something for the big AND little kids.

So wishing you all a very Happy Chinese New Year – good things are in store for 2012!

31 thoughts on “Happy Chinese New Year

  1. Love the little shell dish. I didn’t click though all the links – did you check Gumps? Super good source of dragon and other China motifs. And Wendy Brandes has a pair of FANTASTIC dragon earrings). Nice post!

  2. May I call you “Dragon Lady” because you have got all the good dragons lady!
    Great selection! Happy Chinese New Year.

  3. Fabulous examples Stacey and I wonder if they have such great things for the year of the rat. Yes unfortunately I was born in that year…..it couldn’t have been a bunny?


  4. Wow, so many dragon options – well curated indeed!
    Reminds me of our China trip last October, dragons everywhere – can’t imagine how many there are right now. No dragon birth signs in our house but I do have two little white ceramic dragons in the cupboard. Will pull them out today to honor the celebration :)

  5. This is hands down the best Chinese New Year post I’ve ever seen! I love how you tied together the tradition with elements of design! The garden stools are amazing…love the colorways. My Father’s Dragon book looks like something my three year old son would love, as he loves dragons!

  6. Great post Q! I am halfway through the Inheritance series of books. And my favorite dragon here – my tea kettle has a dragon on its spout – so when it heats up it looks like a steam-breathing dragon!
    xo Cathy

  7. What a wonderful compilation you have done with this post, Stacey. Truly exciting. Cannot wait to see who you invite to your BIO Fantasy Dinner Party in February. I know that will be the most interesting list ever. xx’s

  8. Really great andirons. We brought back so many Chinese items from when we lived in Japan. I especially love my Chinese snuff bottle collection. I am so excited about witnessing Chinese New Year celebrations in Houston this upcoming weekend.

  9. This was such a great post. I deal with Asia on a daily basis and our business revolves around international holidays. I think it would be so much fun to celebrate Chinese New Year. What a fun post. Love all the “dragon” items you found. Very clever. Garden stools and stationary are my favs. Have a great day.

  10. A huge amount of work and research and such great examples of dragons, as part of our day-to-day. I LOVE the andirons, and the Thornwillow notes and the Jappaned cabinet to put them in! I think the Nars stick is just the perfect shade of Dragon Girl-Red. Divine post to celebrate the Chinese New Year!! ox

  11. The underwater picture is amazing, I’ll be dreaming about the 1st Dibs antique andirons…so incredibly unique, and the cufflinks would be such a special gift. I remember my son reading Eragon in middle school…thanks for such a wonderful post!

  12. This is a wonderful post!!! We’re drawing and studying baby Chinese New Year dragons just hatching out of their shells in class this month…the kids have loved it and it’s been fun for them to view dragons in a different light other than the terrorizing lizards of yore.
    All fabulous grown-up dragon accoutrements by the way…I think I just might have to hunt down that nail polish!
    xo J~

  13. Wonderful post! I love those rich lipstick and nail polish colors yet I always wear neutrals.. ;) I’m going to do some research on those Dragon Temple Jars – gorgeous!

  14. Love a good dragon! This is such a fun post Stacey. I’m a Nars girl and live in Jungle Red, so I will have to track down this color too.

    xo Mary Jo

  15. Loving that this is Year of the Dragon! It’s honestly my favorite symbol of new year, though no one in my house was born in this year. 1 monkey, 2 rams and a snake!

    My oldest son is obsessed with all things Asian – and has a wonderful watercolor of a dragon hanging above his bed (painted by our next-door-neighbor when we lived in Charlotte) and this year I found a child’s size Dragon costume and have hung it from his ceiling above his desk. It greets you when you walk in the door!

    Here’s to a really powerful, exciting year!
    xo Elizabeth

  16. My favorite kind of post. Now I’m going to be looking for dragons everywhere. Many thanks again; you have such a great eye and you’ve spotted some real treasures here. Too bad someone isn’t making rolls of that peelable wallpaper– just a dragon per panel. I’d put up a panel somewhere (even in a closet) to celebrate the new year! d

  17. Hello Q! I also did a dragon post, but we hardly overlapped – so fun to see all of your picks! I especially love the Ferragamo tie, those are some of my favorites. And I can’t believe I forgot about Chanel’s Dragon…such a classic! Love your picks : ) xxKelly

  18. There is also a mini population explosion, since it is auspicious to be born in the year of the dragon. I love the Schumacher’s classic Chiang Mai Dragon. I can put it on my orange Tony Duquette sofa! Liza and I are going to LA, so… since you have been nominated for best blog writer, I assume you will be there to gather your award. I’ll try to catch you in NYC.

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