Saturday, February 09, 2008

'Nian Nian Yo Yu'- 'Have plenty'

"Nian Nian Yo Yu!"

This common greeting during the Chinese New Year season explains why the fish is a symbol of prosperity commonly seen during this time. 'Yo' means 'to have', and 'yu' means 'plenty', however the pronunciation of 'yu' also sounds like the word for 'fish'. 'Nian nian' means something like 'yearly', or 'year after year', and thus you are saying (paraphrased) 'year after year I hope you have plenty!' (symbolised by the fish most families will cook on the eve of the New Year, but not eat entirely until the next day- thus having 'plenty' 'year after year')

However, Phil and I took the whole fish thing a little too literally this year. We have just finished setting up a new room-divider of sorts to give a little more privacy to his office, which is located at one end of our long livingroom.

I know it's not exactly what the proverb meant, but as a vegetarian I like this version much better!
SET UP for those interested:
We planned the set-up to be much more Ikea based, using the large Bladet vases, though we ending up finding vases cheaper in our local flower market. The black stones (Parlor) and black sand (Florera) at the bottom of the tanks are also Ikea products.

We decorated the tanks with replica Cultural Revolution era statues from our local antiques market here in Shanghai, aquatic plants and of course goldfish. One thing that somewhat spoils the look of the "tanks" are the air pump hoses- but we wanted happy fish. We did manage to get one strong pump, with three hose connections to cut down on the clutter, and the pump is hidden behind the canvas room-divider on the left of desk.

Voila! Nian Nian yo yu!

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