Anna Belleforte

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no mud, no lotus

Posted by Anna Belleforte on February 10, 2019 at 5:45 AM

The lotus plays a big part in urban decorative features in all the places I’ve visited in Vietnam – in particular as light sculptures. HCMC has a whole variety of lotus lanterns, Can Tho has the pedestrian bridge with a huge lotus defined in pink neon, serving as kind of pavilion on the bridge, and Hue has simple yellow lotus shapes on a (beer-sponsored) arch over the main street (Le Loi). It’s interesting to me that ornamental lights, most often linear in nature, seem important to urban beautification here. It all has a certain ‘cartoon’ or graphic quality to it, using lights to outline a shape or symbol that as local significance. The lotus (or water lily) is particularly important because it’s seen as representing triumph over adversity: the beautiful, classy lotus rises above its muddy roots, it’s able to flourish despite its ‘dirty’ surroundings, be odourless in spite of a smelly environment. And yet, as the Vietnamese say, without mud, there’s no lotus.

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