Living City: Dance of the fire dragon

The fire dragon of Chinese temple Mun San Fook Tuck Chee measures over 60m in length, requires no less than 13 men to wield in dance, and is decorated from head to tail with over 4,000 joss sticks.
The fire dragon of Chinese temple Mun San Fook Tuck Chee measures over 60m in length, requires no less than 13 men to wield in dance, and is decorated from head to tail with over 4,000 joss sticks.ST PHOTO: BASIL EDWARD TEO
With a history dating back to the 1860s, Mun San Fook Tuck Chee  moved twice before settling down at its current location in Sims Drive in 1901.
With a history dating back to the 1860s, Mun San Fook Tuck Chee moved twice before settling down at its current location in Sims Drive in 1901.ST PHOTO: BASIL EDWARD TEO
Decorated from head to tail with over 4,000 joss sticks, the fire dragon of Mun San Fook Tuck Chee would be engulfed in flames by the end of the dragon dance.
Decorated from head to tail with over 4,000 joss sticks, the fire dragon of Mun San Fook Tuck Chee would be engulfed in flames by the end of the dragon dance.ST PHOTO: BASIL EDWARD TEO
With a history dating back to the 1860s, Mun San Fook Tuck Chee moved twice before settling down at its current location at Sims Drive in 1901.
With a history dating back to the 1860s, Mun San Fook Tuck Chee moved twice before settling down at its current location at Sims Drive in 1901.ST PHOTO: BASIL EDWARD TEO
In the early 1900s, Mun San Fook Tuck Chee served a community of Cantonese and Hakka migrant workers employed by brick kilns and sawmills in the Kallang Basin area.
In the early 1900s, Mun San Fook Tuck Chee served a community of Cantonese and Hakka migrant workers employed by brick kilns and sawmills in the Kallang Basin area.ST PHOTO: BASIL EDWARD TEO

The fire dragon of Chinese temple Mun San Fook Tuck Chee makes an appearance only once every three years.

A tradition unique to the temple, the fire dragon dance is performed in celebration of the earth deity’s feast day, which falls on the second day of the second month in the lunar calendar.

Measuring over 60m in length and dotted from head to tail with more than 4,000 joss sticks, the dragon figure requires no fewer than 13 men to wield in dance. By the end of the performance, the beast would be engulfed in flames.

“Making the dragon costs more than $10,000 and requires a lot of manpower,” said temple chairman Chin Fook Siang.

With a history dating back to the 1860s, the Cantonese temple moved twice before settling down at its current location in Sims Drive in 1901. In the early 1900s, it served a community of Cantonese and Hakka migrant workers employed by brick kilns and sawmills in the Kallang Basin area.

This story is the fifth in our Living City video series, which explores Singapore’s overlooked spaces.