Carp to Dragon: The Transcending in Waves

Feb 2-3 & 9-10, 6–10 PM

Entrance Plaza, Lan Su Chinese Garden 239 NW Everett St.
Portland, Oregon, 97209
BEST VIEW: It’s visible from the street, but it’s recommended to view it from inside the Public Entrance Plaza of Lan Su Chinese Garden. No admission is required to access the plaza.

MAP #: D53

“Carp to Dragon: The Transcending in Waves” is a traditional Chinese handmade lantern sculpture inspired by the Chinese folktale “Carp Leaps Over the Dragon Gate.” In Chinese mythology, the Dragon Gate rests atop a waterfall that flows from a legendary mountain. While many carp swim against a river’s strong current, only a few possess the capability or courage to attempt the extraordinary leap over the waterfall. According to legend, a carp that successfully swims upstream and leaps over the Dragon Gate undergoes a transformation into a dragon. Historically, this metaphor symbolized the elevation in status attained by a Chinese scholar after overcoming the rigorous levels of the Chinese civil exams. Around 500 years ago, a garden such as Lan Su would have been owned by an established scholar and their immediate family. Chinese scholars likened themselves to the carp in this metaphor. Many of them originated from humble backgrounds and shaped their destinies by surmounting numerous difficulties and challenges, akin to the act of leaping over the Dragon Gate atop the waterfall. Broadly interpreted, successfully leaping over the Dragon Gate signifies the journey to alter one’s destiny and evolve into a superior version of oneself, regardless of the form it takes.


Lan Su Chinese Garden