Beijing 2008 Olympics: What are the meanings of the five mascots?
Five Fortunes (good luck, prosperity, longevity, happiness, wealth).
In English, they are known by the limp-sounding â€œFriendliesâ€?which convey none of the symbolic meanings in Chinese. In fact the name "Friendlies" is very neutral and well..friendly. Note that none of the traditional Chinese symbols such as the dragon or mythical Monkey King were chosen.
The other major point to be made about these five mascots is that two of them are endangered species -- the giant panda and the Tibetan antelope. I guess China wants to focus both domestic and international attention on this environmental concern.
Whether you like the character designs or not â€?and there have been a lot of diverging opinions from experts -- some anonymous -- and ordinary individuals alike â€?they are meant to convey a range of positive and auspicious meanings. Here they are:
Fish â€?Bei Bei
Fish in Chinese is pronounced â€œyu2â€?which has the same sound as â€œyu2â€?meaning surplus or abundance. The headdress of this doll is a â€œfish in waterâ€?which represents a bountiful harvest of medals and money for everyone. The fish is blue to correspond to the blue Olympic ring.
Panda â€?Jing Jing
ing Jing is a giant panda from the forests of Sichuan in Western China. There are only about 1,000 wild pandas left in the Wolong Nature Reserve in Sichuan. The giant panda symbolizes the harmony of man and nature. The head dress of Jing Jing is a
lotus flower pronounced â€œhe2â€?which is the same sound as â€œhe2â€?meaning harmony. The lotus flower has a lot of other meanings as well. Jing Jing the panda is a friendly, optimistic and energetic fellow. Jing Jing stands for the black Olympic ring.
Fire - Huan Huan
This is the only mascot thatâ€™s not an animal. Itâ€™s a â€œFire Dollâ€?representing the Olympic flame. The flame on Huan Huanâ€™s head is reproduced from the picture of a flame on a Dun Huang Cave painting. (Dun Huang is a city on the famed
in Western China where there are many caves with Buddhist paintings and scriptures.) Huan Huan is an outgoing character adept at many ball games.
Tibetan antelope â€?Ying Ying
The symbol of a â€œgreenâ€?Beijing 2008 Olympics. This antelope that roams the Tibetan highlands is being hunted for its wool which is finer, softer and warmer than lamb"s wool and cashmere. It"s been estimated that only 75,000 to 100,000 Tibetan antelopes are left in existence. The headdress is a motif from the Tibetan and Xinjiang cultures in North Western China.
The Tibetan antelope is a an alert and fast creature, and represents the track and field events of the Beijing 2008 Olympics. It also corresponds to the yellow ring.
Swallow â€?Ni Ni
The idea for Ni Ni comes from the traditional Beijing Swallow kites which are frequently flown over Tiananmen square. Swallow, pronounced â€œyen4â€?in Chinese also refers to â€œyen jingâ€?the ancient name for Beijing. Ni Ni will be featured in gymnastics events and represents the Olympic green ring.
Now you know the symbolic meanings behind each of these Beijing 2008 Olympics mascots. Of course, you probably know by now that lining up the first words of each name gives "Beijing huan ying ni" or "Beijing Welcomes You"