Coxmate Dragon Boating Resources
So... What is Dragon Boating?
Dragonboats are the basis of the team paddling sport of dragon boat racing an amateur watersport which has its roots in an ancient folk ritual of contending villagers held over the past 2000 years throughout southern China. While 'competition' has taken place annually for more than 20 centuries as part of religious ceremonies and folk customs, dragon boat racing has emerged in modern times as an international sport, beginning in Hong Kong in 1976. But the history of dragon boats in competition reaches as far back as the same era as the original games of Olympia in ancient Greece. Both dragon boat racing and the ancient Olympiad included aspects of religious observances and community celebrations along with competition.
Origins of Dragon Boating
Dragon boating began in China more than 2000 years ago, originating from superstitious beliefs that the boat racing would ensure prosperous and bountiful crops.
The dragon boat celebrations were conducted during the summer solstice - the time of the year when natural calamities such as disease and death were more prevalent. Accordingly, dragon boating has come to symbolize both humankind's struggle against nature and the fight against dangerous enemies.
The tradition of dragon boat racing was further embedded in Chinese culture by the tragedy of patriotic martyr Chu Yuan. Chu Yuan was a poet and a minister and councilor to the King of Chu and lived during the "Warring States" period in Chinese history around the 4th century BC. It was a time when numerous supremacy wars were fought between feudal lords, resulting in the destruction of many kingdoms. ·The Kingdom of Chu, however, became one of the mightiest states.·Chu Yuan, in his desire to preserve the future of his kingdom and his country, provided advice to the King, which was ignored, and he was subsequently exiled. In despair over the consequent devastation of the Kingdom of Chu and his exile, Chu Yuan committed suicide by throwing himself into the Mi Lo River.
The people of Chu loved and respected Chu Yuan. They mourned his death and devoted much of their time trying to deter the fish and water dragons away from Chu Yuan's body by rowing around the river in their fishing boats, splashing their paddles and beating their drums. To ensure that Chu Yuan never went hungry, rice wrapped in leaves was cast into the river. Rice cakes are still eaten today as part of dragon boat festival celebrations.
Some of the original rituals are still practiced today, like the "Awakening of the Dragon" by dotting the eyes of the dragon's head on each boat. This ceremony is conducted to cleanse and bless the area of competition, the competitors and their boats. It also gives the boats and their crew the strength of the Dragon and the blessing of the Goddess of the Sea.
Dragon Boating Websites of Interest
European Dragon Boating Federation
British Dragon Boat Racing Association
Singapore Dragon Boating Association
International Dragon Boating Event Calender
Australian Dragon Boating Federation
New Zealand Dragon Boating Association
Dragon Boating Videos
Want to share a video of your crew? Email us with a link to your video or audio of Dragon Boat racing and a short description and we will publish a link as a resource for all the other Dragon Boaters out there.