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The Beijing Olympics Emblem: What it Means

Aug 28, 2007
Every Olympics emblem conveys a unique message relevant to the host country's culture and aspirations, and China's Olympics seal is certainly no exception. Let's face it, throughout China's long and rich history, the Chinese have held an enduring affinity towards symbolic connotations; it's reflected in their spoken language, specifically Mandarin, within their written characters, their calligraphy, and even their food. Not surprisingly, their Olympics seal, "Dancing Beijing" is filled with symbolic significance, drawing upon shapes and colors that are now standard archetypes in every Chinese psyche.

The form of the running figure is a stylized modification of the Chinese character "Jing" (the latter part of the host city's name), and represents the beauty and significance of life. The curves of the body draw upon the image of the dragon, the ancient benefactor of China. The figure's open arms are an invitation and welcome to the rest of the world, signifying friendship and trust, the underlying role of every host country during this important event.

The artist who created the seal, Zhang Wu, has told world press, "In my designs, humanity is a must. Many foreign friends of mine were shocked when they saw the 'Dancing Beijing,' because they said they had never expected that China would place a single human being in such a high place. I hope the world learns more about China and its people through the emblems and symbols."

The figure is encased within an asymmetric, oval-like shape in the image of an ancient seal, the official stamp, or mark of ownership and identity throughout China. It's a stamp of authority and authenticity. And of course, the Olympics stamp is in red, the color prominently used from ancient days to present to represent the nation.

The color red is seeped within Chinese history and culture, it's considered life-giving and auspicious. It can be found covering the 999 rooms of the historic Imperial Palace and upon the national flag. It represents beauty and life, and was chosen during the Chinese Revolution to represent the proletariat cause of an oppressed people. During modern Spring Festival celebrations, the color red still dominates the scrolls and couplets pasted over doorways for good luck; even small red beans are given as tokens of love, and brides have traditionally worn red silk veils (gaitou) to cover their faces. Red is the essential color rooted within Chinese aesthetics.

"Dancing Beijing" is now engraved as the symbol of China's hopes and aspirations to a country that has over 56 ethnic groups and a population of over 1.3 billion. It is an image that reflects eastern thought and the pride of one the greatest nations on Earth. The emblem proclaims a new beginning that's securely tied to the Middle Kingdom's splendid past.
About the Author
Timothy Green is the co-author of SPEAK E-Z CHINESE In Phonetic English. You can find fun and easy Mandarin lessons, as well as travel and culture tips about China at The Cathay Cafe.
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