City of Taipei admits its Fortune Monkey design could be the ugliest ever in history
When do you try to turn lemons into lemonade? As the new Chinese New Year ushers in the Year of the Monkey, the city of Taipei, Taiwan, unveiled its Fortune Monkey lantern to celebrate the happy occasion. The symbol of the Monkey is one of the most popular, perhaps only second to the Dragon, because monkeys (a generic term for all primates other than human) are considered smart and agile, and the famous Monkey King is a favorite character in the ancient historical novel Journey to the West. Therefore, it gets personal and emotional when the new design is considered "too ugly" by many Taipei residents. The huge wave of criticism finally forced a top city official to admit the error. What does he say in hopes of turning around the tide of critics?
The Fortunate Monkey lantern, looking like a huge gourd with the face of a monkey, stands 14.2 meters (46.5 feet) tall. It will be the star attraction for the upcoming Taipei Lantern Festival, based on the traditional lantern festival that is held on the 15th day of the lunar calendar, which is also the last day of the lunar new year celebration.
Under the wave of criticism as well as accusations of possible plagiarism, the artist, designer Lin Chu-min, came out to explain the germination of his creative design. He said he was looking for elements in Chinese traditions, and he combined the shape of the gourd, a traditional symbol for good luck to hang around the house, and the auspicious monkey into one breakthrough design. The commissioned design cost the city of Taipei NT$900,000 (about 27,000 USD).
Finally, a Taipei city official decided to turn lemons into lemonade by announcing the following to the media: "Please come visit Taipei to see the ugliest monkey lantern in history, but it will also be the most fun."
Commissioner Lan Shih-tsung, Director of the Taipei Department of Civil Affairs, admits that even he himself was wondering why the monkey lantern "turned out like that" when he first saw it. However, there is no time now to change the design, and he hopes that people will respect the artist's creative vision and keep an open mind.
The 2016 Taipei Lantern Festival will be held at the Taipei Expo Park from February 20 to 29. Check out this video on the website to see how the Fortunate Monkey looks in different images created by lights.
What do you think about the design of the Fortune Monkey lantern?
Happy Lunar New Year and may the Year of the Monkey bring good luck to everyone!
(Photo credit as referenced or tagged)