第二，精心设计描绘，有所创新。纪念币的推介词中讲，“设计者Jai Paek从中国民间艺术中汲取灵感，通过硬币背面的龙及其复杂的细节进行描绘”“金币的设计灵感来自于传统的中国艺术形式，由艺术家Simon Ng精心设计，它以木龙追赶龙珠（象征智慧和繁荣的火球）的形象来庆祝龙年。其周围则以樱桃花连接成的纤细花朵装饰，呼应了祥龙的波澜壮阔”。的确，我们从该龙图所展示的凸圆的眼珠、栉比的鳞片、尖利的趾爪、和悦的神态，就能看出设计者匠心之精细，而以“樱桃花连接成的纤细花朵装饰”，就属于容合、创新的范畴了。
Appreciation of Canadian Loong Year Commemorative Coins
Recently, in response to the controversy over the U.S. Postal Service’s issuance of the Jia Chen Loong Year zodiac stamps, I answered questions from a reporter from the “Global Times.” After the interview article was published in the media, it received a wide readership and many responses. Mr. Zhang Zhili, the chairman of the Global Alumni Summit Canada Committee, messaged me on WeChat, criticizing the design of the U.S. Postal Service’s Loong Year stamp for its demonization and uglification of the Chinese loong, which he found repulsive and contemptible. He suggested that this should be condemned. At the same time, Mr. Zhang sent me images of two Loong Year commemorative coins designed and issued by the Royal Canadian Mint, praising them as “beautiful and grand.” The loong on these coins, depicted as soaring through clouds, is seen as embodying an uplifting and inspiring spirit.
Jiang Mingwu, the Director of the Chinese Division of the World Cultural Preservation and Development Foundation and a social activist, observed that the loong designs from the U.S. and Canada reflect the distinct cultures and national characters of the two countries. He described one as dignified and elegant, embodying a noble temperament, and the other as petty and evil.
Mr. Zhang suggested I write an article to analyze and comment on the different loong images released by the U.S. and Canada. Accordingly, I conducted online research and learned that the Royal Canadian Mint planned, designed, and issued a series of five Loong Year commemorative coins for Jia Chen Year, including two in gold and three in silver. The promotional materials describe the design as a “massive lucky loong ” and center on a Chinese loong spiraling in the sky, controlling the elements essential for agriculture: wind, rain, clouds, and storms. The loong, a revered figure, ushers in the Year of the Loong.
In the Chinese lunar calendar, years are marked using a combination of the “Heavenly Stems” and “Earthly Branches,” with the “Heavenly Stems” categorized into the “Five Elements” of metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. “Jia” corresponds to wood, hence “Jia Chen Year” is also known as the “Wood Loong Year.” Impressively, the designers at the Royal Canadian Mint were aware of this nuanced detail, not commonly known even among many Chinese. The promotional literature highlights the loong as a natural leader and symbol of strength and wealth in the Chinese zodiac. Especially in a wood element year, the loong is seen as capable of generating groundbreaking ideas, bringing progress and prosperity. The loong, particularly the Wood Loong which occurs once every sixty years, is viewed as a stable, innovative thinker.
After closely examining these five Canadian Loong Year commemorative coins, I gained three insights:
First, they show respect for traditional Chinese culture and embody auspicious meanings. The loongs on the coins, depicted in various poses, conform to the mature image of the auspicious Chinese traditional loong.
Second, the coins are meticulously designed and innovative. The designer, Jai Paek, drew inspiration from Chinese folk art for the intricate details on the loong depicted on the coin’s reverse. Simon Ng, who designed the gold coin, drew from traditional Chinese art forms, depicting the Wood Loong chasing a dragon ball (symbolizing wisdom and prosperity), surrounded by delicately connected cherry blossoms.
Third, the coins reflect a positive and virtuous intention. The Royal Canadian Mint’s advanced design techniques and exquisite craftsmanship are evident, as is the sunny and noble disposition of the planners and designers. The essence of the loong, as I’ve often discussed, represents the Chinese people’s understanding and mythologization of natural forces. Over thousands of years, the loong has evolved into a broad totem and symbol of Chinese culture, civilization, and spirit. It’s a symbol that resonates with Chinese people worldwide. The contemporary loong, having shed negative historical connotations, now embodies self-confidence, unity, adaptability, love for peace, and inclusiveness.
In contrast, the U.S. Postal Service’s designers of the Loong Year stamp have revealed their limited understanding and narrow-mindedness. They failed to recognize that debasing a great nation’s symbol ultimately reflects poorly on themselves.
I hope that those responsible for the design of the U.S. Loong Year stamp and others with misconceptions about the Chinese loong can learn from the Canadian approach, taking this incident as a lesson and refraining from similar actions in the future.
(January 24, 2024, at Maple Hall, Canada)
About the author: Pang Jin is an expert and writer in loong and phoenix culture, serving as the Chairman of the Loong and Phoenix International Federation and the Honorary Chairman of the Chinese Loong Culture Association. He is also the Director of the Chinese Loong and Phoenix Culture Research Center, a Senior Editor at Xi’an Daily, a member of the China Writers Association, a council member of the Shaanxi Writers Association, and a special researcher at the Shaanxi Academy of Social Sciences. He is the chief editor of the Chinese Loong and Phoenix Culture website (www.loongfeng.org) and the Deputy Chief Editor of the Ontario Publishing House in Canada. Since the 1970s, he has been involved in literary creation and cultural research, publishing over ten million words in various works. His publications include more than forty titles such as “Theory of Creation,” “Chinese Loong Culture,” “Chinese Phoenix Culture,” “Chinese Auspiciousness,” “Dancing Spirit Trees,” and “Collected Works of Pang Jin.” He has received over eighty awards, including the First China Bing Xin Prose Award, the First Shaanxi Folk Literature and Art Mountain Flower Award, and the Xi’an Municipal Social Science Outstanding Achievement First Prize. He is renowned as one of the contemporary “Ten Outstanding Figures in Loong Culture.” WeChat ID: pang_jin