Wooden Dragons and Metal Dragons. To Make a Dragon

Thyrus, the inauguration on the Lungonera on June 15th. Marco Martalar, sculptor and author of the Vaia Dragon, invited to the inauguration.

È ormai diffuso che il 2024 sia colorato dalle virtù del drago, l’unico animale mitologico onorato nel calendario cinese tanto quanto nell’antica astronomia cinese, con la costellazione del Drago, e nella filatelia con i Grandi draghi, i primi francobolli emessi nel 1878 dalla Cina. La cosa che più sorprende addentrandoci nell’arte del computo del destino dell’antica Cina imperiale è che i Draghi con i loro cicli segnavano il termine di un’epoca di mutamento radicale, con i numeri perfetti dei gradi del cerchio. Un’epoca scandita da 60 cicli maggiori di Draghi di sessant’anni ognuno, e composto dai cicli minori di dodici anni per ogni elemento: Legno, Fuoco, Terra, Metallo, Acqua (con l’ansia tutta cinese di non contraddire le forze naturali). Questo spiega perché sia l’anno del Drago di legno piuttosto che di fuoco, il prossimo tra dodici anni, mentre quello di metallo, figlio della Terra e madre dell’Acqua, il più risoluto dei draghi, il segno della creazione e dell’innovazione, tornerà solo nel 2060. 

Dettaglio di THYRUS. Photo courtesy Onirico

In the Terni calendar, meanwhile, the laser-forged steel one, the Thyrus, is about to finally be revealed. It will make its official appearance in June on the Lungonera, To Make a Dragon.The great project of the new steel dragon of Terni has reached its final form, its realization and the great reality it has generated will be celebrated with exhibitions, conferences and shows on the Lungonera. Two days of study, on 14 and 15 June 2024, in the Clock of Chaos room (Siri factory centre) will be dedicated to the figure of the dragon symbol of the city, in its innovative, original effigy, and to the relationship of happy coexistence between the city and the waters, and contemporary sculpture; between history, legend, anthropology and art history, the use of steel in the contemporary artistic panorama, the dragon in fantasy and cinema. Cultural and pop communication, and journalism with the reportage Around The Nera. A set of languages ​​starting from the journalistic one to qualify Umbria and Terni as an opportunity for an in-depth study of cultural information with the training course for journalists of ODG Umbria in collaboration with the Thyrus Association on the second day: «The cultural format. The methods, investigations, approaches and needs of cultural information”.

Si segnalano, tra gli appuntamenti, l’inaugurazione dellomonima mostra To Make a Dragon legata alla fase progettuale del drago d’acciaio nel foyer del CAOS, le attività artistiche e reading letterari dell’Associazione Thyrus, la sfilata delle società sportive caratterizzati dal logo del Drago di Terni. Volerà infine la formazione Thyrus Flying Team dell’Aero Club di Terni, cui seguirà il cerimoniale dell’inaugurazione del Thyrus alla presenza dell’autorità.

Thyrus. Photo courtesy Onirico

And for the Trentino one, the new Martalar Wooden Dragon will soon return to the Cimbrian Alp.Both Dragons love and represent an area and community. That of Martalar is the fruit of the Trentino artist’s great love for the woods of his land traumatized by a hurricane in 2018. The Dragon of Terni, designed by the sculptor Marco Diamanti, is an attractor of energy in the city, an ouroboros that closes the circle of a symbol of rebirth. The desire to rediscover an identifying and participatory symbol, with all its nuances of meaning. However, behind the beauty of the Alps, the suggestion of breathtaking views with the wooden sculptures of Martalar, there is a drama and several questions. Marco Martalar himself tells it, reached by telephone for the official invitation to a twinning between Draghi, of the Cimbrian Dragon with the Terni Dragon which will be installed on 13 June and inaugurated on 15 June.

Marco Martalar, you are officially invited, will you be in Terni with the stories of the Cimbrian dragon?

It’s not easy to say yes. This is the season when I start climbing the mountains.

Photo courtesy di Marco Martalar. Il Drago di Vaia andato distrutto da un incendio nel 2023


The entirely wooden sculpture by Marco Martalar depicts a winged dragon, with its dimensions, among the largest known works of Land Art, produced with wooden material recovered from branches, stumps and brushwood, on the steep slopes of the woods hit by the Vaia storm .«Something had been known about it from social media, there hadn’t been a real inauguration» says Marco Martalar «but from that moment over one hundred thousand people, at least two, three thousand every weekend, have walked the mountain paths of the small town of Lavarone to admire the Dragon”.

What happened to the mountain with Hurricane Vaia, why was the Vaia Dragon born?

A storm hit at 1500 meters in the mountains, with strong north-east winds of up to 200 km per hour. In a few hours, in a single, enormous strip of land, at least 20 million trees collapsed on top of each other. After the dismay, lumberjacks from Finland and all over Europe intervened on the public property area, it was impossible to clear the forest with one’s own strength. It took at least three years to remove all the wood. When I went up the mountain to walk with my dog ​​in the woods, I realized the damage, trees and roots upside down, I couldn’t move forward, the dog jumped free. I realized that the solution to climate change is adaptation. We must start taking seriously the hypothesis that the damage is irreversible. The Dragon is the idea of ​​psychologically healing that wound inflicted not only on nature. We had to ask ourselves about the breakdown of an ecosystem, in a limbo of land where nothing ever happens, and take courage.

The collection of wood for the sculpture recalls the customs of the mountain people of keeping the paths clean of stones, how did they welcome the Dragon?

It was a sensation, it was more successful than the Lion created with the same technique of collecting wood from the undergrowth, sculpted into suggestive animal and mythological figures, with the idea of ​​starting a Land Art artistic park. The impact with the population it was positive. Here we are used to the tourist flow, the town offers services for the winter ski season. The route that leads to the sculptures takes about half an hour, and it is an easy path but the huge flow of visitors was as unexpected as the hurricane and put the small town in crisis, disturbing the farmers and the elderly.The Dragon, then, in 2023 was set on fire, as scientific reports confirmed, without it being possible to trace the perpetrator of the arson but it is being reconstructed, with the support of crowdfunding and a peak of donations, it will be installed with every care in the next months.



Drago di Vaia

A fragile forest. The hurricane wasn’t the only damage…

Parasites such as the bark beetle coexist with the decomposition of plants on the ground, which affects neighboring healthy trees exponentially. The parasite has spread and the spruce trees, which represent 99% of the mountain forest, have suffered further decimation. It should be noted that spruce is a monoculture plant that dates back to the past. The growing commercialization and related supply of wood from a tree that grows straight and fast has made the forest fragile. I also talked about it with Daniele Zovi and Geo & Geo. The good news is that nature is stabilizing, the undergrowth is repopulating with birds and deer. As for green, we don’t know how to take steps backwards to regenerate the planet. For example, with climate change it snows less and less and we only think about artificial snow. We don’t want to adapt and we repeat mistakes.

You will soon inaugurate the new wooden dragon…

Yes, I have currently created an Egg, using the blackened portions of the Dragon sculpture recovered from the fire, for a symbolic message. I’m working on the new dragon and with the finalization it will be close to returning to the top, with activities and days also dedicated to children, Vaia for Kids. Closely connected to the return of the Dragon are the release of a fantasy comic and a publication for children, aimed at supporting the Lavarone Greenland project.

Will a connection with the Thyrus conference room be possible?

No, I disappear in the mountains, and connections will also be difficult.

Thanks for the story and your reflections, but which Dragon would you be?

Definitely a wooden dragon.

Translation carried out with an automatic tool

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Daniela Zannetti

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