Jan 22, 2009 - OF DRAGONS AND HORSES    No Comments

Festival of Lights

Filly was enthralled.  She had been honored to be sent by her school on a special expedition to the Northern parts.  She took her best blanket and left with the Appaloosa, the English Mare and the American Buffalo.  The animals were led to a fairyland in the North where it was veeeeerrrrrry, veeeerrrrrrrry cold, but veeeeeerrrrry, veeeeerrrrry worth the journey.
For there, in magnificence before them were sculptures encased in snow and when the light filtered through them – there were rainbows everywhere!!  Filly knew that even without a camera, she would remember this site forever.

When our school was about to begin winterbreak, we were sent on a special cultural trip to the Russian-influenced city of Harbin in Heilongjian Province in the North along the Russian border.  The import of this is that we were to represent our school as foreigners to the International Ice Festival held there annually. 

This was as close to Siberia as I could get, but although the actual Siberian land front was still miles away, the Siberian cold front had settled upon this city for the winter.  The traditional fur hats of the Russians were available in the stores for purchase and Russian achitecture set this city apart from other provinces within China to which I had travelled.  And more so than elsewhere, there were churches visible, dotting the landscape.

One of the most interesting parts of the festival was the polar bear swimmers, swimming within the hole in the ice from where they cut the blocks to make the sculptures.

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They were also fond of sliding down this big slide onto the ice of the river.  This was not done like sledding, but standing up – a sort of snowboarding, but without the board.

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This is a smaller bridge for the same purpose within the main sculpture park.

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These sculptures were judged by a team of international judges and spanned entries from all over the world.  They went from this simple statement:

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to this more intricate one, which was the third place winner the year I was there.

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But the sculptures weren’t limited to the park.  They were huge and very intimidating in some ways, as exampled by these:

This was the gate, under which you would pass to enter the main display area.

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This sculpture, like some others, was built specifically to honor the year of the Dragon.

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This is another magnificent representation of work to honor the year of the dragon:

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As you can see here, the elaborateness…this is a sculpture representation of a sacred Chinese village.  Notice the size by the people standing in amongst the houses.

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And the best for last…this is a 7 story size building. 

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But the most magnificent part of this festival is at night.  Inside each of the ice sculptures have been carefully placed multi-color christmas-type light bulbs (some blinking, some non).  When turned on, the lights shine thorugh the ice creating rainbows of multi-colored light everywhere.  It truly looks like a Fairyland.

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