History of Dragon Burn’s Effigies

Building the 2015 "Dragonfly"
Building the 2015 “Dragonfly”

The focal point of any Burn is always the effigy. At the end of a Burn everyone will gather around the effigy to watch it Burn. It is the culmination of the Burn experience.

Effigies come in many different forms. At the original Burning Man they burn a huge effigy of a man. At Dragon Burn a new effigy is designed each year to make each Burn unique. Take a look at the different effigy designs we’ve had over the years, and what effigy will come in 2017!

Donate to this year’s Effigy fundraiser!

2014: The Dragon’s Egg

Early Plans for the Effigy
Early Plans for the Effigy

This Effigy was designed by Nathan Melenbrink, an American Architect who was living and working in Shanghai.  The form is an abstraction of both a ‘Dragon’s Egg’ and Lantern. The Lantern form helps create dramatic shadows when the effigy is internally lit or ignited.  The Egg  represents ‘The Beginning’ of Dragon Burn.  The Effigy’s ‘dragon scale-like’ pieces help hold the frame together.  When it was assembled it became a small shelter for various activities.  This helped the effigy serve as a gathering space for people to add art and  memorabilia, much like ‘The Temple’ at Burning Man.  

Building the first ever effigy!
Building the first ever effigy!

Dragon Burn 2014 took place on June 6-8 on an island 2 hours from Shanghai. At the gate of the event, greeters gave attendees a small block of wood to personalize and add to the effigy before the burn. “Dragon Burners” travelled from various major cities such as Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing and Taipei. Fire performers from as far as the Dali also came to celebrate this special event.

The first ever Burn in China!
The first ever Burn in China!

Some local island people came to watch the big burn.  Some of them offered to give us more fuel to make the fire bigger, but we decided to play it safe.

2015: The Dragon Fly

The Dragonfly was the focal point at Dragon Burn 2015
The Dragonfly was the focal point at Dragon Burn 2015

The “Dragon Fly” Effigy was designed by Sara Witschi, an American architect who was based in Shanghai.  This effigy was be the central feature at Dragon Burn 2015 and served as a gathering space for various events and personal moments: meditiations, workshops, art, music, performance art, and family-friendly activities.

People decorated the effigy before we burned it
Decorating the effigy 

During this event people were encouraged to decorate and paint the Dragonfly. A dance and a fire show culminated in lighting the effigy, and it was a spectacular burn. It was almost like a dragon rose from the flames, a sign of what was to come in 2016.

A dragon rising from the flames!
A dragon rising from the flames!

2016: Panlong

Panlong, the coiled dragon
Panlong, the coiled dragon

This year’s effigy was designed by Nick Li.  Nick was working as a product engineer based in Shanghai, China.  The effigy was be a 3.6m long dragon that will stood a little over 2m tall at its highest point from the ground.  The dragon was made of wood that used dado cuts to interlock the pieces together.

Testing the effigy build
Testing the effigy build

We did a test build as soon as before the event.  After we felt it was a little short we decided to raise it on some blocks for the actual Burn. This is where it got its name: Panlong, the coiled dragon that had not yet ascended to heaven. Finally in 2016 Dragon Burn actually burned a dragon!

Burning a dragon at last!
Burning a dragon at last!

2017: Name of the Dragon

Burners enjoy Dragon Burn 2017's effigy - Picture by Tutu.
Burners enjoy Dragon Burn 2017’s effigy – Picture by Tutu.

Last year’s effigy was designed by Magic Ma.  Magic Ma is working as a product engineer and is currently based in Shanghai, China.

The effigy will be a 5m tall Chinese character combination. The idea is to use 3D calligraphy to combine 3 different Chinese characters into a 3D installation using wooden blocks. The 3 Chinese characters are 人, 龙, 火, meaning HUMAN, DRAGON, and FIRE respectively. Participants will recognize these 3 characters by viewing the effigy from different angles. These 3 characters will all appear in a triangle, making it a steady installation.

In 2017 we returned to Anji, planting the effigy and temple on the dry lakebed
Watching the sunrise – Picture by Sven Aarne Serrano

2018: The Light Dragon

The Light Dragon - Concept by Magic Ma
The Light Dragon – Concept by Magic Ma

This year’s dragon will be 6m. tall in a spiral shape, head to the sky waiting for the flames to come out of his tongue at the last night of the Burn! The body part will be connected by bundled branches that was discarded by the city, the Dragon will be lifted up by bamboo stick. 

The Dragon will be light up by LED lights during the Burn event, at the last night we will remove the lights and start the burn from the Tail! 

Donate to this year’s Effigy fundraiser!