Thursday, May 10, 2007

Fuwa. The official mascots of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying and Nini. Being the somewhat naive foreigner that I am, I assumed that these 5 mystical looking characters were steeped in ancient mythological lore. Apparently I was wrong. At least somewhat.

You see, the names are structured to sound like an affection childrens name. Each one is suppose to represent a child in a closeknit group of friends. Four of the Fuwa represent popular Chinese animals. The fish, the Tibetan antelope, the panda and the swallow. The final Fuwa represents the Olympic torch. Each one has features of the animal or torch it's suppose to represent. Each Fuwa also symbolizes an element, and the landscapes, dreams and hopes of people from different parts of China. And, if you combine all their names, you get "Beijing huanying ni", or "Welcome to Beijing". So cute its repulsive.
So what at first appeared to be something magical, mystical, almost mysterious, turns out to be nothing more than a marketable advertising ploy. It will sell millions and millions of cute little stuffed toys of Fuwa all around the world. It will also ensure that the same people who buy the Fuwa know that all parts of China, no matter how remote, all minorities groups, know matter how unique, are a commodity. That they are Chinese.
On a side note, an article I wrote is up on my friend Mike's and his partner Matt's webpage It's entitled "the easter egg hunt".

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