Based on a Chinese folk tale titled “How Chi Li Slays the Dragon.” It’s a story of a giant serpent that terrorized a local kingdom and the only way to appease it was to sacrifice a young girl every year. Then on the ninth year a brave woman named Chi Li volunteers for the role, but instead of giving in to the gruesome fate she fights and kills the serpent, thus saving the kingdom and bringing huge honor and fortune to her poor household. One of the most popular myths, it also was a great source of metaphor for one of China’s major problems today: the notorious One Child Policy.
Started in 1979, it was a move made by the government to curb the booming population that currently boasts of 1.3 billion, in which every household is allowed only one child. And since then it has managed to keep the population from running out of control, but with a hefty price on the social and economic level. One big reason is that, because of Chinese families traditionally desired male child for the purpose of carrying on the family name and inheriting the family business, the first child that turns out to be a girl is either abandoned at orphanages or worse, killed by way of abortion. This has led to an unhealthy male/female proportion in the country, and the government is feeling the sting. Nowadays they have taken steps to slowly dissolve the policy and encourage families to have more children, but the damage may be beyond repair. (There was an interesting Nat Geo doc CHINAS LOST GIRLS that addresses this issue in depth, you can find it on Netflix or YouTube).
As I read about this issue I was reminded of the story I had read back in college, and I found how it resonates well with the whole girl shortage problem in China. No planning or prelim sketches, I made the drawing with brush and ink in just half an hour, relying solely on my old memories of images of dragons I had seen back in the day.