Thousands of people filled the courtyard of the Smithsonian American Art Museum Saturday for a Chinese Lunar New Year celebration, which featured dragon dances and other traditional Chinese folk artforms.
Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai and Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton kicked off the event with a dragon awakening ceremony, during which they painted color onto a dragon’s eyes.
“Xin Nian Kuai Le,” Skorton wished the some 7,500 visitors happy new year in the Chinese language to mark the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Rooster.
The event, co-organized by the museum and the Chinese embassy, invited Chinese craftsmen from Beijing to make sure that Washingtonians can experience an authentic Chinese festival.
With musical performances, dances, paper cutting, calligraphy, painting, dough sculpting and bristle dolls, the event presented both traditional and modern traits of the Chinese culture to its visitors.
Five-year-old Julia and her older brother Henry, who was seven, made quite a splash at the bustling figure making corner, where they were taught by a Chinese craftsman how to make a crawling caterpillar with only a straw and a piece of paper.
“This is the second year (that I came),” Julia said, happily recounting that last year she had her face painted into a monkey for the Year of the Monkey. “It is so fun!” she said.