Vigor of dragon and horse at Yuyuan Garden

Updated: 2014-02-16 08:37

By Wu Ni in Shanghai(China Daily)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

A giant horse and dragon lantern set has brightened the central square of Yuyuan Garden in downtown Shanghai, bringing the holiday ecstasy of the Lunar Year of the Horse to a climax.

As the protagonist of this year's Yuyuan Spring Festival Folk Art Lantern Fair, the lantern set is larger and heavier than those of the previous 19 years - it is 10 meters tall, weighs 3 tons and covers about 160 square meters.

The golden horse lantern is 6 meters high and 10 meters long - almost three times the size of a real horse. It rears up beside a winding dragon. Under the horse is a large boat sailed by dolls from typical Chinese New Year paintings.

"The lantern set is created from the Chinese idiom 'the vigor of dragon and horse'," says Zhang Yan, vice-manager of the marketing department at Yuyuan Tourist Mart, which organized the lantern fair.

"Chinese people traditionally use the two animals to symbolize an enterprising spirit. We hope the lantern heralds a stronger nation and richer people."

More than 100 different shapes and sizes of horse lanterns are spread across the garden.

At the renowned zigzag bridge of nine turnings. And 15 sets of lanterns with a love theme delight visitors.

"The Chinese Lantern Festival of this year arrives on Feb 14, coinciding with Valentine's Day in Western countries. So we decorated the zigzag bridge with love-themed lanterns, wishing the lovers can go through life's turnings and love each other forever," Zhang says.

Vigor of dragon and horse at Yuyuan Garden

Characters and scenes from love stories and fairytales are made into lanterns.

One features a Chinese legend about the Weaver Girl and the Cowherd. The two lovers move from two sides of a bridge made up of magpies and finally meet with each other.

The classical Chinese tale has it that the Milky Way separates the hard-working cowherd and the weaver girl, a fairy from heaven, who are very deeply in love with each other. They can meet only once during the evening of the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. And the day is also known as China's Valentine's Day.

The whole set of the Weaver Girl and the Cowherd lantern is 15 meters wide and 7 meters high. Multimedia have been applied in the making of the lanterns, according to Sun Yubo, a lantern craftsman from Yangzhou, Jiangsu province. Sun's team has made lanterns for the fair for two decades.

There are also lantern scenes from Western tales: Eve is handing over an apple to Adam at the biblical garden of Eden, and Snow White is hand in hand with the prince. Lanterns in the shapes of lotus flowers and red carps intersperse on the lake under the bridge.

Visitors can talk to a virtual guide on WeChat to learn stories of each set of lanterns by scanning the QR or quick respond codes beside them.

Enjoying lanterns and guessing riddles have been age-old Chinese traditions in Shanghai. The annual lantern show at Yuyuan Garden was declared an intangible cultural heritage unique to Shanghai in 2009.

 Vigor of dragon and horse at Yuyuan Garden

A horse and dragon lantern set highlights the festival in the garden. Gao er'qiang / China Daily

(China Daily 02/16/2014 page9)