Twin prosperity lions kick off museum's CNY festivities

Two large guardian lions have been installed on the lawn of the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall in Balestier to mark the start of the museum's Wan Qing Festival of Spring. The lions will be on display until Feb 28. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH
Two large guardian lions have been installed on the lawn of the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall in Balestier to mark the start of the museum's Wan Qing Festival of Spring. The lions will be on display until Feb 28. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

Two large "rui shi", or guardian lions, have been installed on the lawn of the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall in Balestier to mark the start of its annual festival welcoming Chinese New Year.

A 2.5m-tall white lion has its paw on an embroidered ball, symbolising authority, while an equally tall green lioness has its paw on a playful lion cub, symbolising the passing of traditions from one generation to another.

Titled Double Prosperity, the installation went up at the launch of the museum's Wan Qing Festival of Spring, which will see a series of 20 onsite and online programmes celebrating the Year of the Ox.

The festival began on Tuesday and runs till Feb 21, while the lions will be around till Feb 28. They can be viewed by members of the public from 10am to 7pm every day.

Mr Alvin Tan, deputy chief executive for policy and community at the National Heritage Board (NHB), which oversees the museum, said at a media preview on Monday that the festival typically sees around 40,000 visitors a year.

He added that in line with the theme of double prosperity, the lions reiterate the belief that "good things come in pairs". They also express the memorial hall's wish for protection against the trials and tribulations brought about by Covid-19, as well as for "double" blessings in the form of economic recovery for Singapore and personal protection for Singaporeans against Covid-19 and future challenges.

Such lions are traditionally installed in front of imperial Chinese palaces, but are also commonly found across Asia, to protect buildings and their residents.

This year's installation is the hall's fifth Chinese New Year art installation, and was created in collaboration with Chengdu artists Lee Hsieh-Lung, 45, and Tan Yizi, 40, of the design and collectible label Blackbox.

Other programmes include Chinese drums and lion dance workshops, as well as guided tours.

Said NHB's Mr Tan: "Through this installation and our festival, we hope to bring much-needed festive cheer to our visitors during phase three and to encourage Singaporeans to rediscover our museums and heritage institutions."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2021, with the headline 'Twin prosperity lions kick off museum's CNY festivities'. Subscribe