Mid-Autumn Festival light-up goes green with LED lights

A 12m-tall lantern depicting Chang Er, the mythological moon goddess, is the centrepiece of this year's decorations. Steel worker Gan He Ping, 32, bending steel cables to form the skeleton of the jade rabbit. Nafa students designed the decorations be
A 12m-tall lantern depicting Chang Er, the mythological moon goddess, is the centrepiece of this year's decorations. ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN
A 12m-tall lantern depicting Chang Er, the mythological moon goddess, is the centrepiece of this year's decorations. Steel worker Gan He Ping, 32, bending steel cables to form the skeleton of the jade rabbit. Nafa students designed the decorations be
Steel worker Gan He Ping, 32, bending steel cables to form the skeleton of the jade rabbit. Nafa students designed the decorations before 36 professional craftsmen from Sichuan, China brought them to life.ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

Chinatown decorations this year will use such lights, which consume less electricity

This year's Mid-Autumn Festival light-up in Chinatown will be brighter, more colourful - and greener.

Instead of traditional light bulbs, some 10,000 LED light bulbs and 20,000m of LED light cables are being used in the decorations for the annual event.

LED lights consume less electricity but shine brighter than traditional lights. LED lights also come in a variety of colours. They will light up the decorations in Eu Tong Sen Street, New Bridge Road and South Bridge Road when the festival is officially launched this Saturday.

  • 36

    Number of professional craftsmen from Sichuan, China, who made the lanterns designed by students.

  • 900

    Number of lanterns made by the craftsmen.

The Mid-Autumn Festival, or Mooncake Festival, is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. That falls on Sept 15 this year.

The centrepiece of the decorations is a 12m-tall Chang Er, the mythological moon goddess.

There are also three large lantern sets: Chang Er's Moon Palace; the famous archer Hou Yi, who saved the earth by shooting down nine of the 10 suns in the sky; and the Jade Rabbit, Chang Er's companion on the moon.

The decorations were designed and conceptualised by students from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Nafa). This is the second year the festival's organising committee - the Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng Citizens' Consultative Committee - has worked with Nafa students.

The eight students from the School of Art and Design, aged between 17 and 22, focused on the legends surrounding the festival.

Said Mr Chua Jia Hong, 19: "A lot of us were told this folklore as standalone stories, but through research we realised that all these stories were connected, like how Hou Yi was Chang Er's husband."

Probably started to celebrate the harvest, the Mid-Autumn Festival later became associated with the legend of Chang Er. She was married to Hou Yi and floated to the moon after drinking the elixir of life.

In Chinatown, the students' designs came to life in the hands of 36 professional craftsmen from Sichuan, China. The intricate process of making the lanterns impressed the students.

Mr Chua said: "Many things are now mass produced so we thought these decorations were mass produced too. But everything is made by hand."

Indeed, making the 900 lanterns for this year's light-up was no easy feat.

The craftsmen first made the structures based on the students' designs. Electric lights were added to the structures before pieces of coloured cloth were attached. The lanterns were then painted and installed.

One of the craftsmen, Mr Guo Decai, 34, said: "The students don't have much practical experience in three-dimensional designs, so both sides had to work together to execute their designs."

Yet, it is the relative inexperience of the students that keeps the ideas fresh.

Dr Lily Neo, adviser of the Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng Citizens' Consultative Committee and MP for Jalan Besar GRC, which Chinatown is part of, said: "This partnership allows our young creative talents to inject their creativity and ingenuity into the street decorations, involves the youth in our cultural festivals and gives them a wonderful platform to showcase their work."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2016, with the headline 'Mid-Autumn Festival light-up goes green with LED lights'. Print Edition | Subscribe