Mara Moustafine and Mabel Wang.
Mabel Wang discusses how the idea of Chinatown came to fruition
18 February 2009
source not available
.. the Chinatown, yeah. Chinatown was not a definite sort of area. Well it was but it was dull and very ugly in a way and there was nothing to define it and at that time, the lord mayor was Ron Walker, who was also a very great - a good person who did things, you know was good at doing things. The Victorian Government premier, Mr Hamer was also a very sympathetic to this sort of thing so, between the three of them, it all happened and so they built – put the money aside for Chinatown and – and they erected those arches and fixed up the lighting and then –and from that time on we tried – he organised a Miss Chinatown contest, to try and liven up the place and so now – and then we got a dragon – just before he died he initiated to get a dragon for the Chinese community.
And then when – after he died, I sort of took over with another leader of the Young Chinese group who owned the original dragon and then he asked us to help and so we – my son and I went to China and ordered the dragon and we raised the money and we got it here for the 25th Moomba anniversary and ever since then we’ve had a Chinese New Year celebration in Chinatown and it’s got bigger and bigger and bigger and it’s really nice now.
Whereas when I was young, we had no – we didn’t even know when Chinese New Year was on, we never knew anything about it. Nothing like that ever happened when I was young. But now, you know, so many people come and also not only in Melbourne, but I know in Sydney they do and other places they have big celebrations of Chinese New Year.
When you had that dragon made, what happened? Did they know how to do it?
When we wanted to get the dragon made, we had to go to a place in China called Fushun which is also about 90 miles from Canton. My son and I went there and we had to take the – a drawing with us, a plan of the construction because in China they hadn’t made a dragon since the cultural – no not no, since the communists had come into power and that was 1949, because once they were there, they stopped all this traditional things – they’d destroyed a lot of things, you know, we used to have – families used to have books – when someone got married, you put in the new – the marriage and then they put on the next generation and all these books that belonged to a family, went back for generations and generations, for years and years. All those were destroyed, you know.
So a lot of these people don’t have any record of their families any more. But so and this was the case with anything traditional was just not continued and dragons and all that worshipping and temples and everything was not allowed. So, we had to take our – our diagrams back with us. And this was after the cultural revolution which was 1976, so if it was before 1976, we wouldn’t have been able to do it. So we went there in 1978 and so we were able to get help to do that.
And what has happened as a result in Fushun?
Well, as a result of our dragon, I think they’ve made lots of dragons all over the world. Not over the – but in America, in Hong Kong. Hong Kong always did make dragons. Yes, Hong Kong did make dragons but China not.
So this has revived..?
Revived, yeah, a lot of these traditional things, yes.
Yeah, Fushun is the place where – it’s famous for these things. I think they make them in other places but this is the famous place.