Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Local legend inspires mascots and emblem

The Jakarta Post | Tue, 11/23/2010 12:16 PM

If we look carefully at the Asian Games emblem, is seems to be a simple flame, but the rising torch-like curves actually outline the Five Celestial Goats, a famous Guangzhou landmark.

The emblem is indeed designed to symbolizing the dynamic athletic flare of the Games, but it also represents Guangzhou in many ways.

The design of both the 16th Asian Games emblem and its mascots was inspired by a legend about the city of Guangzhou materialized in a huge statue in the heart of the city — the Sculpture of the Five Rams.

As the legend goes, a long time ago the farm lands in Guangzhou ran dry. Crops could not be grown and a famine struck the people. They could do nothing but pray to the heavens for good luck. One day, a heavenly melody suddenly rang out and five angels came down from the heavens, each wearing different colored coats. The angels arrived riding on goats, and each goat carried bundles of rice with their teeth. The immortals gave the rice to the people of Guangzhou, and promised that the land would soon be free of famine.

The angels then rose up to the clouds and gradually disappeared. The five goats they left behind turned into stone. From that time onward Guangzhou reaped bumper harvests of grain every year and became the most prosperous city in south China. The story has been passed down from generation to generation and has rendered Guangzhou the title “The Ram City”.

The Sculpture of the Five Rams, located within the 868,000 square meter recreational and cultural Yuexiu Park, was created in 1959 by three famous Chinese sculptors; Ying Jichang, Kong Fanwei and Chen Benzhong. The Yuexiu Park itself is a historic scenic spot in the city, constructed around the year 1380 during the Hongwu period of the Ming Dynasty.

The sculpture is made of 53 cubic meters of granite, including the base, and stands over 10 meters tall. The heads of the rams weigh two tons each, and the two-meter horns weigh over 500 kilograms.

The sculpture is surrounded by verdant woods and the nearby Nanxiu Lake glistens with silvery ripples and picturesque reflections.

Locals regard the statute as the city’s emblem. In 1989, more stones carvings in commemorating this moving legend expanded the Five Rams Scenic Area into today’s Five Rams Celestial Court.

The five goats, which together are known as Le Yangyang, have been made into the five cute and sporty official mascots of the 16th Asian Games.

Each of the five goats has a different color coinciding the colors of the five Olympic rings, thereby embodying the Olympic spirit at the Asian Games. The names of the five goats are A Xiang, A He, A Ru, A Yi and Le Yangyang, which when spoken together form the Chinese phrase “Xiang He Ru Yi Le Yangyang”, meaning “Peace, Harmony and Great Happiness, with everything going as you wish”.

Both the emblem and the mascot are the result of a long and tight competition.

By June 2007, a total of 812 mascots proposals had been received by the Guangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee (GAGOC), including submissions from the US, Germany, Canada, Australia, Taiwan and Hong Kong. About 100 entries were short-listed, and on Dec. 2007 the five goats were selected by GAGOC as the basic concept for the Asian Games mascot.

Even before being made official, the mascot, together with Beijing Olympic Games Fuwa and Paralympics Games mascot Funiu Lele, was recognized with the Best Sports Cartoon prize at the first China International Cartoon and Animation Festival and Award Ceremony and again at the 5th Golden Dragon Original Cartoon and Animation Contest on Sept. 28, 2008.

In April 2010, the five goats concept was approved by GAGOC as the official mascot for the games.

“This corresponds with the concept of the 16th Asian Games — “Thrilling Games, Harmonious Asia”, the organizing committee said in a statement.

The competition for the emblem started in Sept. 2006 when the GAGOC invited several companies and a postgraduate from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts to participate in the design competition, asking them to submit designs for consideration.

Some 100 designs were collected. After repeated modification and screening rounds, the piece by Guangzhou-based designer Zhang Qiang and his design team of Zhongjia Design Co. Ltd. [including Zhang Yi, Yang Jingsong, Hatoli Hikahiko, Li Chenjia and Liang Yihui] won the competition.

“When you put the five names of the mascots together, they represent the hopes of local people that the Games will bring peace, auspiciousness and happiness to the people of Asia,” said GAGOC publicity director Luo Jingjun, as quoted by the SEA Games official website.

— JP/Matheos Viktor Messakh

Fun Fact and features of Le Yangyang

The five colors of the mascots are identical with the colors of the Olympic Rings. “It is to imply that the Guangzhou 2010 Asian Games inherits and carries forward the Olympics spirit.”

The blue “A Xiang” symbolizes the meandering and flowing Pearl River as well as the cordial character and the open-mindedness of Guangzhou people.

The black “A He” symbolizes the long history of Lingnan culture and the profound historical and cultural heritage of the ancient city.

The red “A Ru” symbolizes the city’s floral emblem, Kapok.

The green “A Yi” symbolizes Baiyun Mountain.

The yellow “Le Yangyang” is identical with the colors of rice ears and symbolizes harvest and joy.

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