Just in case you were stuck right on the fence about whether to visit the Forbidden City in Beijing, museum officials unveiled this weekend something that is sure to shock you right off—mascots.
Meet the Palace Museum‘s mascots: Zhuangzhuang and Meimei. According to CCTV, the mascots’ design comes from the traditional Chinese cultural symbols of the dragon and the phoenix (definitely not a sultry penguin). Get this, the names even mean something! “Zhuang” means strong, and hey, would you look at that, dragons are totally strong! Meanwhile, “Mei” means beautiful and represents the more than 1.8 million cultural treasures in the museum’s collection that will soon all be overshadowed by this dynamic duo.
Developing the design for the mascots somehow took museum staff more than 10 months, with all aspects undergoing the scrupulous examination of experts. They are currently wearing costumes from the Qing Dynasty (all the rage nowadays), but designing authentic costumes from different dynasties is on the docket.
Feng Hui, head of the cultural service center of the museum, said the museum hopes the mascots will be received well by the public (kids) and spread Chinese culture to the whole world. I mean if they can’t do it, then no one can.
Coincidentally, the museum will also open an online shopping mall on January 1st, 2015, where people can buy cultural souvenirs—including the mascots!—and have them delivered straight to their fireplace mantels around the world.
People’s Daily reports that the mascots have brought forth a heated debate on Weibo. Some people say they are cute, while some people counter that they are ugly. The debate rages on. One netizen even thinks Meimei, the mystical phoenix, looks like a parrot.
Unfortunately, there was no video from this unveiling ceremony. Was there tension in the room before they lifted up that piece of cloth? A drum roll?
by Alex Linder
[Images via People’s Daily]