Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Mid-Autumn Festival Lantern Display @ GB 2016

Since the Mid-Autumn (aka August Moon) Festival's lantern displays taken place in 2013 (or is it 2014?) in Gardens by the Bay (aka GB. Not Great Britain, ok?), i've made it my own annual tradition to visit it. I certainly wouldn't mind visiting GB, with or without the lanterns, especially during the evening. I haven't come here as often as i would like.

If you come to GB using MRT, you would go through the Tunnel of Mirrors (this is the name i christian this baby. While France has the Hall of Mirrors in Palace of Versailles, Singapore has Tunnel of Mirrors where the mirrors are taller, and Tunnel is longer than the Hall. Viva la Singapore! One familiar sights is that you will see people posing in this tunnel next to the mirrors).

Anyhoo, after passing through the cool and shady Tunnel of Mirrors, and emerging into the tropical heat and humid GB, you should notice the structure in the following photo (if you don't, consult an optometrist).

future of us exhibition pavilion, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
the future of us exhibition pavilion

This structure is a legacy left over from the future of us exhibition as part of SG50 event (that actually took place in 2016, not 2015). There were actually a few structures interconnected together like some insect hive. This is the only structure remains. The 3 semi-spheres or domes had gone. What a shame. They reminded me of the futuristic Buckminister Fuller-esque domes that go so well with the Supertrees structures that are GB's centerpiece.

future of us exhibition pavilion, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
This photo shows both the domes and the remaining pavilion.
Source: The Straits Times

Still this futuristic looking canopy provides a nice latticed shades for picnic or playing a guitar and sing like postulant Marie and the von Trapp family. Do bring yourself some man-made lawn to cushion your hiney. Doe Adeer, a female, dear?

future of us exhibition pavilion, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore future of us exhibition pavilion, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore 
future of us exhibition pavilion, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore future of us exhibition pavilion, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

future of us exhibition pavilion, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
Close-up of some of the 11,000 triangular panels that made up this pavilion.
Designed by SUTD (Singapore University of  Technology and Design) Advanced Architecture Laboratory

Apart from picnic and guitar playing, the pavilion also provides a nice framing for photography such as those illustrated below.

future of us exhibition pavilion and Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

future of us exhibition pavilion and Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

future of us exhibition pavilion, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore


Supertrees, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore


Flower Dome and Floral Clock, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
Flower Dome and the Floral Clock

Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore


Monkey lantern, Mid-Autumn Festival, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
Mid-Autumn Festival lantern (we're still in the Year of the Monkey)

After SG50, everything seems smaller, the lantern displays this year is no exception. Every year, there's a theme for the lantern exhibits (in addition to Mid-Autumn theme). This year, the theme seems to be Chinese myths or folklore.


Cheng Er lantern, Mid-Autumn Festival, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
Cheng Er the Moon goddess. I didn't know she plays the flute. China's got talent.

Moon rabbit (Yutu), Mid-Autumn Festival, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
Jade Rabbits (Yutu) and Peace Doves (strictly Western imports), mixing East and West (hey, this is Singapore)

Moon rabbit (Yutu), Mid-Autumn Festival, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
I believe there's only 1 Yutu accompanies Cheng Er on the moon.
But rabbit has a way of breeding ...like rabbits. Even by itself. Ummm...what does that mean? I wonder...

Old Man Under the Moon (Lao Yue), Lantern, Mid-Autumn Festival, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
One of the Chinese folklore that associates with the moon is The Matchmaker.
This is the old man sits behind the couple with the Book of Marriages (today it's called Registry of Marriage)
where all the names are being recorded, and become heavenly binding (today it's legally binding).

As i mentioned before in my article Beijing Ancient Observatory that Chinese culture is a Moon culture, and so it has a fair share of lunar tales or legends. One of such story is the Matchmaker or Yue Lao, which in Chinese, literally means the Old Man Under the Moon (月下老人).

The big Chinese character on the green moon is "Fate". If fate means predestined, then this is correct because it's the old man who decides it. You have no free will in the matter. Your free will is only an allusion. That's what this tale is alluding.

He's responsible for our marital fates (you're certainly free to think that you have free will). He's equivalent to the Western Cupid except he's a long bearded old man instead of a winged chubby baby. This reflects the attitudes towards marriage and romance in Chinese and Greco-Roman culture. One is practical and conventional, reflecting the Confucian values of family and marriage; the other reflecting the passion and impulses of the romance. The old man embodies maturity, duty, and order while the winged baby symbolises innocence, playfulness and even mischievousness. Marriage is too serious a matter to leave to a baby.

Cupids
Turkish shoot of love

But then, with Cupid around, romance and passion too, is predestined by an unseen force majeure. In both cultures, it's saying that in the theatre of love, we're like puppets being controlled by some invisible hands (or more correctly arrow and ribbon, which the Old Man is used to tie the couple together) behind the stage.

See the Old Man sitting behind the couple in the lantern display? And the Cupid is always shooting people with his arrows in the backs...

One can argue that the old man and the baby represent different things because romance and marriage are 2 different things. Well, Chinese doesn't even have such irresponsible - i.e. oh so not Confucian - word as "romance". It has to be borrowed from English. Is it really borrowed, or sold? I think it's the latter. If it's borrowed, it would be given it back (like in the case of Saudi Arabia. They still keep the devilish technology. Yeah, i, too, like technological witchcraft).


Houyi shooting the Sun, Lantern, Mid-Autumn Festival, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
Houyi (后羿) the archer

This lantern diorama depicts the Chinese Creation Myths where Houyi (formerly Hou-i) shot down 9 out of the 10 suns in the sky. Sun is good. Sun gives life, but too many will be a killer. So the other 9 must die.

Think of Houyi as the Chinese Sagittarius Man.

Want more similarity between Chinese and Greco-Roman myths? I'm glad you ask.

These 10 suns were actually sunbirds that lived in a mulberry tree in the Eastern Sea. Every morning, one would travel around the world on a chariot, driven by Xihe, Mother of Suns (not sons. Well, they're the same thing in this case).

Anyone who knows Greek mythology instantly sees the similarity between this explanation of the rising and setting of sun. In both cases, a new day is created by having the sun being driven across the sky from the East to the West in a chariot. The only difference is the driver. In Greek mythology, it's Apollo; in China, it's Xihe (China had female driver since the dawn of time (no pun intended)).

Interestingly, Apollo is quite often being depicted as an archer.

Apollo the archer
Apollo statue in El Camino College Compton Center campus
Source: wikimedia commons

You could think of Apollo is the combo of Houyi and Xihe. He's a chariot driver as well as someone who like to shoot arrows (just like Cupid). In a personal classified ad or a profile in online dating website, his would go something like this, "Hey goddesses and sirens! My name is Apollo. I'm a chariot driver, and i create a new day every day for a living. I enjoy long walk on the beach and archery. If you're interested, contact me on apollo11@mount_olympus.com.gr"

Would you go out with a guy like this? I wouldn't. I prefer to date women. But i don't mind riding his chariot. Giddy up! Yeehaw!

Are all these coincidences in different cultures merely coincidences? I don't think so. We think alike because we're much more alike than we think. No need to resort to Ancient Alien Theory. It's all very human.


We Song slaying tiger, Lantern, Mid-Autumn Festival, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
This one depicts Wu Song's scene of Slaying the Tiger.
He's a well known fictional character from the Chinese classic Water Margins


As night fall, the Supertrees take on its magical qualities. I decide to take a few panorama shots of them this time.

Supertrees, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Supertrees, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Supertrees, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Supertrees, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Supertrees, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore


Apart from the many interesting structures and buildings within the gardens, which also provide many good vantage points for notable sight without.

Benjamin Sheares Bridge, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
View from GB at the back of Flower Dome: The Concourse, Benjamin Sheares Bridge (longest bridge in Singapore), the Costa Rhu Condo
(Click photo to enlarge. I insist) 

Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
Marina Bay Sands Hotel

Singapore Flyer, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
Singapore Flyer as viewed near GB's entrance (the brown roofs of the Costa Rhu condo could also be seen)

Singapore Flyer, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore Singapore Flyer, Gardens by the Bay, SingaporeSingapore Flyer, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Supertrees and Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Supertrees and Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore


Monkey lantern and August moon, Mid-Autumn Festival, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
Judging from the crowd of Chinese-speaking photograpgers lining to take this photo,
the Chinese popular saying isn't lost on them.

The expression is "Monkey fishing the moon from water" (猴子捞月), meaning a futile act. While this moon - an actual August moon (15th August in the lunar calendar) on the day of my visit - wasn't in the water, but the idea is still applicable. Trying to catch a moon in the sky is an equally futile attempt as fishing it out of water.

Happy August Moon!



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