A curled up snake in the water waves with its head rising up into the air.
This is to be the main lantern on display at the 24th Taiwan Lantern Festival in Hsinchu County next month. The lantern was unveiled by the Tourism Bureau yesterday, breaking a traditional taboo of using an image of a snake, which was avoided in the past.
The next lunar year is the Year of the Snake in the Chinese zodiac. The main lantern unveiled yesterday was named “Up-soaring Jiao [蛟, a legendary dragon-like creature that is said to inhabit deep waters] that brings prosperity.”
“The Jiao is a small dragon and an ancient sacred creature, so we use its image to convey the spirit of courage and strength,” Tourism Bureau Director-General David Hsieh (謝謂君) said.
The 20m-tall main lantern is about seven stories high and more than 200,000 LED energy-saving light bulbs are to be installed in its structure, said the bureau, which also introduced small paper lanterns that are to be distributed free of charge to festival attendees.
Designed to look like a mechanical snake with a big head, large eyes, a colorful body and a propeller on its head, the bureau said the small lantern is called “the whirlwind playful snake,” which incorporated local features like high technology and strong winds.
“Because Hsinchu is also known as ‘the windy city’ for its strong winds, we designed the propeller on the snake lantern’s head to represent this feature. The propellers will spin when children blow on them,” said Lin Chia-wei (林佳葦), the lantern designer.
The small lantern also features a strap on one end which can be tied onto a person’s wrist, making it more convenient to carry, the bureau said.
It added that 80,000 lanterns are to be given out during the festival, the detailed time schedule of which is to be announced by the local government at a later date.
The main lantern is scheduled to be first lit up at 7:15pm on the day of the Lantern Festival (元宵節) on Feb. 22, after which two illumination shows an hour will be performed.
The annual exhibition is scheduled to run until 10:45pm on March 10.