How to build a Chinese dragon

Updated July 20, 2017

The popularity of Chinese dragons increases during celebration of the Chinese New Year, which is accompanied by drums, gongs and fireworks. The Chinese New Year is celebrated sometime after the autumn harvest and before the spring planting season, which is dependent on the Chinese calendar. The significance of the dragon in the Chinese culture lies in a long-held belief that their people are descendants of the dragon. A Chinese dragon may be built from a variety of materials, including a cardboard box. The cardboard box can be a starting place to add other features such as ears and horns. The box and other features are made from papier-mache, which creates strength.

Use a box big enough to fit over a head for the dragon's head. Cut out areas to represent the eyes and the mouth.

Bend the wire into shapes that represent the ears and horns. Tape over with newspaper. Attach the forms to the box using masking tape.

Dip strips of newspaper into a glue mixture of one part water and one part glue. Apply the newspaper to the dragon's head. Try to keep the strips of newspaper in one direction. Do not cover the opening created for the eyes and mouth.

Smooth the strips down with your fingers. Let the paper and glue dry.

Repeat the process, this time applying the strips of newspaper in a different direction. This method will add strength to the dragon's head. Let it dry.

Roll up some newspaper to create handles. Tape the handles to each side the mask so the user will have something to hold onto when moving the mask around.

Add fabric to the bottom of the head to hide the handles.

Paint the head in various bright colours.

Decorate the dragon's head with glitter, fabric, pom-poms and other embellishments, using glue.

Glue sheer fabric over the eye openings so the person wearing the mask may see out.

Create the body by using 5 metres (5 yards) of fabric in a shade that will complement the dragon's head. Drape one end of the fabric over the end of the head. Secure to the dragon's head with tape, glue or staples.

Cut the end of the fabric into a point, to make the tail. Roll up some newspaper to create handles. Secure them to each side of the tail by sewing or taping. The handles give the user something to hold onto when moving and lifting the tail around and help you simulate the movement of the dragon's body.


For a longer dragon, increase the fabric length and add more handles.

Things You'll Need

  • Box
  • Wire
  • Masking tape
  • Scissors
  • Bright-coloured paint
  • White glue
  • Bells
  • Yarn
  • Pom-poms
  • Glitter
  • Newspaper
  • Sewing kit
  • Scrap material
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About the Author

Based in southern Florida, Joy Campbell has been professionally writing since 2009. She is the author of "Journal of Ideas: Volume One." Campbell holds a Master of Education with a concentration in instructional technology from the University of South Florida.