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Han Meilin, designer of the Friendlies

By Cruz Fang (
Updated: 2006-08-22 22:20

Reporters: Why do we have five mascots?
Han: It's become a trend for mascots to appear not solely since the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Actually we had six mascots candidates - Panda, Tibetan antelope, golden monkey, Northeastern tiger (Siberian Tiger), rattle drum and China dragon, but none of the individual could completely embody the image of China's Olympics along, so we got five.

Han Meilin, designer of the Friendlies
Other candidates for 2008 Olympics mascots

Reporter: Where did the idea originate from?
Han: A folk artist painted five babies based on China's traditional concept of Wuxing (the five factors making up the world), including gold, wood, water, fire and earth. Our impulse is from that. The real art is from the folks.

Reporter: Why is the dragon discarded?
Han: Dragon is too solemn. It represents the soul of Chinese nation. To making a dragon frolicking around would hurt its dignity. Besides, dragon has a different meaning in the west.

Reporter: Why swallow?

Han: We hope the dragon could be substituted with a bird. Crane and magpie (the propitious bird if translated literally into Chinese) were options favored by many, but crane is too slime to match others and magpie also has a different meaning. Then we think of the swallow, which often appeared on the covering of traditional kites in Beijing.

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