History of Dragon Boating

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The use of dragon boats for racing dates back 2500 years in China, along the banks of the Yangtze River (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.


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.

Dragons were traditionally believed to be the rulers of water on earth: rivers, lakes, and seas; they were also thought to dominate the waters of the heavens: clouds, mists, and rains. There are earth dragons, mountain dragons, and sky or celestial dragons in Chinese tradition but it was the water dragon that has been associated with Dragon Boating.