IN FOCUS

Something to crow about

4,000 lanterns to usher in, light up Year of the Rooster

For the last month or more, 40 craftsmen from China have been hard at work under a nondescript tent in Havelock Road.

Someone peeking in would have seen how, under their expert hands, giant whimsical birds have taken form, wrought from twisted metal and vibrant fabric.

The craftsmen have been tasked with making 4,000 lanterns - the most ever in the yearly event - to line the streets of Chinatown and usher in the Year of the Rooster, the 10th animal in the Chinese zodiac.

The fanciful creatures can now be seen along Eu Tong Sen Street and New Bridge Road, making this the latest hot spot for photography.

Each one is created from scratch, with the metal framework first shaped and formed. Electrical wiring and lights are then wrapped inside the metal chassis, which is then encased in colourful fabric.


After receiving the lantern designs from the SUTD students involved in the project, the craftsmen finetune them, coming up with a visual diagram from which all the lanterns are constructed. The shape of the lanterns is moulded from metal rods and the parts soldered together. No two lanterns are alike because each is handcrafted individually.
 ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

  • 40

  • Number of craftsmen who worked on building the lanterns.

    4,000

    Number of lanterns adorning the streets of Chinatown.

    15,000

    Sq m of fabric used in total - the size of six Olympic-sized pools.

The light-up is organised by the Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng Citizens' Consultative Committee in collaboration with students from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).

The university has had a hand in designing the Chinatown Chinese New Year Light-up since 2012. This year, 14 first- and second-year students came up with the concept and design.

"The rooster has always been a keeper of time. Thus we chose to explore the concept of time in this year's light-up," said Mr Jonathan Ng Ming-En, 22. "We focused on a set of five life values depicting the growth of a rooster from a young chick, going through these life lessons, and ultimately emerging as this 13m-tall majestic rooster."

The lantern setpieces along Eu Tong Sen Street depict the life journey of a chick which matures into a 13m-tall rooster. This majestic bird is the centrepiece of the light-up, and sits at the junction of Eu Tong Sen Street, New Bridge Road and Upper Cross Street.


The head of the 13m-tall rooster lantern waiting to be assembled. It is one of three parts of the centrepiece in the light-up. Four craftsmen took 20 days to complete the giant rooster. ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

The giant rooster posed the biggest challenge: It was made in parts over 20 days, and took three nights to install, with the contractors working when traffic was lighter.

The street light-up events in Chinatown during Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival are annual highlights, said Mr Vincent Tan, chairman of the Chinatown Chinese New Year Celebrations 2017 Organising Committee.

"It draws local visitors of all races, as well as those from overseas, to Chinatown to join in the celebrations," he said.

In addition to Eu Tong Sen Street and New Bridge Road, South Bridge Road and Garden Bridge will also be hung with lanterns.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam will officially light up Chinatown this Saturday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2017, with the headline 'Something to crow about'. Print Edition | Subscribe