During my recent trip to Shanghai, I became somewhat obsessed with this figure of Hai Bao, the official mascot of the World Expo 2010 to be held in Shanghai in May 2010. Hai Bao’s name can be translated as “Shanghai Baby,” and he appears all over the city (both in Puxi and Pudong) on billboards, shop posters, and bus advertisments, just to name a few.
When our staff here at the museum first saw the image of Hai Bao, people had declared that he looked like “toothpaste man” or a blue Gumby. The physical appearance of Hai Bao actually derives from the Chinese character of ren 人 (person, people, humanity), underscoring the Expo’s motto of “Better City, Better Life” [for the people].
Chinese characters also play another important part in the official name of the World Expo 2010. Note the green writing in the above picture: it is actually a derivation of the character shi 世 (life, age, era, world), in this case representing the “World” part of the name, but it has been reconfigured to look like three people holding hands in celebration.
These two examples are interesting considering Shanghai’s continued success in traversing the local and the global. As a friend had recently noted, if I could not read Chinese, then I would not have known that the green writing said “World” Expo 2010. And the embracing smile of “Shanghai Baby” is ready to welcome the world to this Chinese city.
Leave a Reply