Singapore lions/dragons from Malaysia.

January 31, 2009

An article from the Singapore e-paper Asiaone (

Zheng Yongliang, a young man from Ipoh, has manufactured more than 600 lions and dragons over the past few years, all done with his own talents and creativity without the coaching from a master trainer.

Other than marketing his works locally, Zheng’s works have also found ready markets overseas.

Since 1997, Zheng’s lions and dragons have made inroads into the Singapore market through the recommendation of a friend, and he managed to sell as many as 60 dragons to the city-state in one year.

However, he has to come face to face with stiff competition from mainland China since 2003.

His wife set up a website for him in 2007, and since then his works have lured the attention of lion and dragon dance groups in the US, Australia and Hong Kong, which have placed online orders to acquire his works.

The 34-year-old craftsman told Sin Chew Daily that the Chinese people like lion dance during the CNY, and orders for lion heads would usually peak shortly before the festive season. As for the rest of the year, he would concentrate mainly on the manufacture of dragon heads.

There are very few manufacturers of dragon and lion heads in Malaysia; even fewer who could master the skill.

Zheng said the orders he received in 2008 were almost double those of previous years, showing that this cultural art has indeed gained increasing popularity over the years.

Besides dragons and lions, Zheng also makes cow heads, phoenixes and carps.

He admitted that the procedures of manufacturing dragon heads are more complicated and accurate measurements must first be obtained. However, the materials are easier to find.

On the other hand, materials for lion heads are not so easy to come by.

Lion and dragon dances have taken root in China. Zheng said web visitors had commented that the designs of his dragons and lions very much resemble those in China.

He said each manufacturer has his own style in making dragons and lions. And as the fluorescent and brightly colored dragons popular in China in recent years have been a unique feature in Malaysia, he claimed that Chinese manufacturers had imitated the uniqueness of Malaysian works.

For example, he found that the dragon scales designed by him had been imitated by other manufacturers. However, he said he wouldn’t mind, and instead took delight in the fact that these people had imitated his works because they appreciated them.

A lion and dragon dance fan since his childhood, Zheng joined the lion dance group during his school days. When he was in Form 3, he found that the dragon head in his school had been antiquated, and that was when he first mooted the idea of making his own dragons and lions. Without the coaching from anyone, he successfully created his own dragon head and his school was more than happy to accept his creation.

Zheng said there are only two full-time lion and dragon manufacturers in Perak at this moment, adding that this is a job that demands a lot of patience and perseverance.

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