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ANDREW SINGER

Author based on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. In his memoir, China Sings to Me, he explores a nation in the midst of seismic growing pains, and finds the courage to live his own life without boundaries.

  • Andrew Singer

The Dragon Turtle 



I am a collector--books, Chinese snuff bottles, baseball cards, tchotchkes large and small. Often, particularly in the tchotchkes category, I buy something simply because it appeals to me, it calls to me and feels right. I do not always know its deeper meaning or symbolism at first. Take this rosewood turtle with a dragon's head. I purchased it more than thirty years ago when I spent a year in China during college. All I knew was that I liked it. The shell back comes off to reveal a small compartment. It has traveled with me across America and back for these three decades. In the early years, there was a strong aroma of rosewood when I took the back off. I enjoyed that smell. It reminded me of China. The smell has gradually dissipated and now requires a bit of imagination to still reveal the scent of memory.



I have since learned that this creature of mine is a 龙龟, longgui, a dragon turtle. A dragon turtle is a feng shui symbol. If accompanied by coins, it is designed to bring wealth. If accompanied by a ruyi scepter, it is designed to bring success in business and career advancement. In other forms, it is designed to protect, to promote health, to bring positive energy to its owner. It is a powerful talisman. My specimen is not specially adorned. Maybe it is just a pleasant piece of art. Or maybe it is all of the above. No matter what, it continues to bring me joy to this day.