Kung Hei Fat Choy

A visit to the Seattle Asian Art Museum on the day of the Chinese New Year.

by Steve
3 min read
Kung Hei Fat Choy

“Gong Xi Fa Cai” and “Kung Hei Fat Choi (Choy)” are the two most common New Year greetings. 

They both have the same meaning, but the former is the Mandarin pronunciation, while the latter is the Cantonese pronunciation. 

“Kung Hei” literally translates to congratulations, and “Fat Choy” means become prosperous or fortune, so together, the phrase means along the lines of “wishing you prosperity and good fortune”.

After yesterday’s brief flurry of large, wet snowflakes, today dawned grey, cold and dry. In wintertime Seattle, we call this a good day. Needing to stretch our legs, we went for a walk and eventually found ourselves in Volunteer Park outside the Asian Art Museum.

Although I’ve posted photos from previous visits, there were a few things I couldn’t resist photographing.

The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, also known as Padmapāṇi, is a manifestation of the Buddha and embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. He is often depicted with a thousand arms and eyes, representing his vow to save all sentient beings.

A more basic representation, made of wood.

Any time you see pots that look like they’ve been decorated using house paint, odds are you are looking at the work of Chinese artist/activist Ai WeiWei.

Contemporary work from Taiwan.

I knew that iPhones had become the preferred religious fetish of many, but I didn’t realize that monks were similarly affected.

I once told a friend that I’m a sucker for brightly colored objects. “Like a crow”, he said.

I love how the neon art is reflected in the window creating a kind of art of its own; neon and nature.

This guy is remarkably serene considering the loss of both hands. But I guess that’s what he’s been trying to teach us for a long, long time.

If you’ve ever visited the Ming Dynasty tombs outside of Beijing, you will recognize this fellow as a copy of one of the statues that line the approach.

The effect is striking. Imagine a wide straight road. There are a pair of standing camels, one on each side, facing each other. A bit farther along, the two camels are kneeling like the one below. Then there are elephants, first standing, then down. Other animals follow. The effect is that these mighty beasts are bowing down in respect as you pass.

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