A dragon faces the viewer while wrapping its body around a rock or dune, with waves visible in the background.
On now

Exhibition: Year of the Dragon

This exhibition celebrates 2024, the Year of the Dragon, with a presentation of nearly 30 artworks spanning from the 17th century to the present day. In the West, the dragon has historically been characterized as an evil creature, flying through the air while breathing fire from its mouth, but in the East, the dragon is believed to possess power in the celestial realm and to pour out blessings in the form of rainwater over swirling wind. The dragon also has a place in the Eastern zodiac calendar—alongside 11 other animals, such as the rabbit, snake, and tiger—in which each year is associated with an animal and its reputed attributes. The objects on view, which are largely drawn from the collection of the Yale University Art Gallery, feature dragons on folding screens, other paintings, textiles, ceramics, ivory, and woodblock prints. Taking inspiration from East Asian history, folklore, and myth, these works demonstrate a long, complex, and continuing artistic tradition around this fantastical creature. 

Read more about the exhibition in the spring 2024 magazine (PDF).

Two folding screens standing side by side. In the one at left, a dragon faces the viewer while wrapping its body around a rock or dune, with waves visible in the background. In the one at right, a dragon is seen in profile over waves. Both screens are characterized by a dramatic contrast between light and dark.

Attributed to Kaihō Yūshō, Pair of Screens with Dragons and Waves, Japan, Momoyama period (1573–1615), ca. 1600–1615. Ink on paper. Yale University Art Gallery, Gift of Rosemarie and Leighton R. Longhi, B.A. 1967

Objects in the Exhibition

Vase with coiling dragon

Maker: Unknown

Oniwakamaru Subduing the Giant Carp

Artist: Totoya Hokkei (Japanese, 1780–1850)

Dragon with Crystal Ball

Artist: Unknown

Courtesan and Attendant

Artist, attributed to: Utagawa Toyoharu (1735–1814)

Watch the Video

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Organized by Sadako Ohki, Japan Foundation Associate Curator of Japanese Art, Department of Asian Art.