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Dragon Boat Head

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Similar to the use of outrigger canoes or Polynesian va'a, dragon boat racing has a rich fabric of ancient ceremonial, ritualistic and religious traditions, and thus, the modern competitive aspect is but one small part of this complex dragon boat culture. The use of dragon boats for racing and dragons are believed by scholars, sinologists, and anthropologists to have originated in southern central China more than 2500 years ago, in Dongting Lake and along the banks of the Chang Jiang (now called the Yangtze) during the same era when the games of ancient Greece were being established at Olympia. Dragon boat racing has been practiced continuously since this period as the basis for annual water rituals and festival celebrations, and for the traditional veneration of the Chinese dragon water deity. The celebration was an important part of the ancient Chinese agricultural society, celebrating the summer rice planting. Dragon boat racing was historically situated in the Chinese subcontinent's southern-central "rice bowl"; where there were rice paddies, so there were dragon boats, too.

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the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci

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