There's no better celebration of any season than the decorated tree adorned with the rich symbolism of nature—my ritual to inform and inspire you in the journey called life.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

the year of the tiger | 恭禧發財

HAPPY NEW YEAR! The traditional Chinese phrase: 恭禧發財 (also superimposed in photo of the decorated tree above) is the broad-brushed symbol for this sentiment. The Lunar New Year is regarded as the most important cultural holiday among Chinese, Vietnamese and other Asian nations. This year is the Year of the Tiger, which symbolizes strength. Personally, it is the to honor Luci, my beautiful Calico cat, who is a tiger in her own right. She has shown the strength to stay with me much longer than she should giving me 16 "Luci years" (all with her certain prosperity of luck, strength and beauty). I'm glad she's still with me now, but the new year will show me the strength to let her go to run with the gods.

THE NEW MOON changes are tracked by the lunisolar Chinese calendar (which consists of both Gregorian and lunar-solar calendar systems). The Chinese New Year celebration can begin anytime between late January and mid-February. This year, the 14th of February (Valentine's day) kicked off the beginning of the lunar calendar or Lunar New Year. This new beginning is the culmination of 15 days of spring festivals celebrating the event in China.

THE TREE I designed to celebrate the Year of the Tiger is inspired by the many rich traditions of the holiday. I wanted it to be a simple and elegant representation of only a few of the many and varied elements of this richly symbolic holiday. Using only mercury glass lantern ornaments in a sophisticated pallet of reds, golds and greens (from this past holiday season's Martha Stewart Collection at Macy's) hung from red cotton cords on simple natural branch forced into flower, I'm representing a time of renewal, rebirth and a precious celebration of life (honoring Luci along with the Lunar New Year).

HONG BAO NA LAI (紅包拿來) literally means "may I have the red envelope, please." Red is considered the luckiest color in China. During Chinese New Year, elders give lucky money in red envelope packets to the young people close to them, thus "hong bao" is essentially a cash gift. It is an important part of the New Year celebration. The ones you see in the photo at left have a large traditional Chinese symbol (fa) with means literally "to emit," or rather "to send." It all depends on what other characters precede or follow it to complete the meaning of the expression. This one letterform symbol has more direct meaning when combined with others, but can imply so much standing alone. For instance, one can also think of it as  “to have plenty," 發財 (or "fa xai") can be translated as such.

WELL WISHES for good luck, happiness and prosperity  are the main sentiments embodied by the Chinese New Year traditions. But they are not the only ones. The celebrations are also centered around reconciliation and forgetting grudges. A clean sweep, if you will. This new year interpretation of a decorated tree is my way of relating this and more to all of the people (and little tigers) that bring the light of many multi-colored lanterns into my life. They give me the strength to recognize life's worth as clearly and as strongly as possible, seeing through the fog of uncertainty.

LANTERN FESTIVITY | (Top and middle) This "forced" tree branch is made quite elegant with the addition of mercury glass lantern ornaments from the Martha Stewart Collection 2009 at Macy's. The traditional paper lanterns used on the fifteenth day of the Chinese New Year for the Lantern Festival, are bright, colorful, and in many different shapes and sizes. The container holding the branch is an antique stoneware vase from a friend's private collection. The green spider mum symbolizing longevity (within a glass globe from Bungalow I bought a few years back, above, left) and in a vase by Victoria Hagen for Target (top), kumquats and oranges symbolizing prosperity and red envelopes (a custom explained above) are all a part of the varied traditions surrounding the holiday.

YEAR OF LUCI | This portrait of Luci (Above) was lovingly painted and given to me by Odette Colón, my dear friend (and talented co-worker) this past Christmas. When I received this incredible gift from the heart, I shed big blubbering tears of joy and grief at the same time. Looking at it prepares me for the inevitable loss of a life, and it will give me the strength to carry on after Luci is gone. I like to think all the good energy put into this painting has translated to her living longer than expected. Even so, I'm glad to have her already immortalized for the prosperity of life to continue. Already in addition to my Bengal Abella, I've added a lovable tuxedo cat that found me much like Luci did 16 years ago, coming into my life suddenly and without without warning. I think Luci somehow called for the new little one to help me in this transition. That's how magical Luci's existence has always been. And at the risk of coming off as a complete cornball, this last line of the song "Memory" from the musical "Cats" is more resonant than ever before: Look. A new day has begun.

©2010 DARRYL MOLAND | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, collecting and styling by Darryl Moland, tree photographed by Harold Daniels Studio / assisted by Shawn May

1 comment:

  1. Aw. She was such a cute sweet kittie.