Beijing Winter Olympics mascot Bing Dwen Dwen continues to soar with dragon version debut
Published: Feb 05, 2024 09:55 PM
Photo: Xinhua

Photo: Xinhua

Bing Dwen Dwen, the beloved mascot of the Beijing Winter Olympics, continues to captivate consumers with its developing editions. The latest addition to the series, the Chinese zodiac dragon version of the mascot, has gained popularity in China since its release in December.

Drawing inspiration from dragon dance and the concept of the "Dragon Kings of the Four Seas"(four water and weather gods in Chinese mythology), the latest version was designed to celebrate the second anniversary of the Beijing Games and the Year of the Dragon.

"The Chinese dragon represents the spirit of the Chinese nation and the best wishes for health and well-being, which echoes with the solidarity emphasized by the Olympic family," Lin Cunzhen, deputy dean of the China Central Academy of Fine Arts' Design School and a designer of the dragon version of Bing Dwen Dwen, told the Global Times on Sunday.

In Lin's view, using the Chinese zodiac as a basis to make creative and innovative transformation of traditional Chinese culture is a very "meaningful" experiment.

Other licensed products of the new version range from plush toys, figurines, badges, ceramics and keychains to precious metals. Notably, the Chinese philosophy of Wuxing (Five Elements), metal, wood, water, fire, and earth, has been employed in the design of the figurines.

 "We combined Chinese culture through the Olympic cultural platform, and many foreigners felt the novelty of these products when seeing the transformation of Bing Dwen Dwen," Lin said.

Lin also hopes that the exploration and curiosity sparked by the evolving appearances of Bing Dwen Dwen provide an avenue for cultural enrichment. People, both domestically and internationally, become interested not only in the mascots' cuteness but also in understanding the symbolism and meanings behind their outfits, colors, and accessories.

Lin Cunzhen poses with a dragon version of Bing Dwen Dwen Photo: Xinhua

Lin Cunzhen poses with a dragon version of Bing Dwen Dwen Photo: Xinhua

Unlike previous Olympic mascots that typically retire after the conclusion of the Games, the continued reinvention of Bing Dwen Dwen as a cultural heritage of the living Olympic spirit is unprecedented, Lin noted.

According to Lin, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) holds intellectual property rights over mascots and each version. The process of designing new versions of the mascot involves complex negotiations between the host city's Olympic committee and the IOC. 

The dragon version of the mascot, including the color and the meaning of the name, all need to be approved by the IOC and COC.

The crystal outer shell of Bing Dwen Dwen which draws the idea of young people changing gaming equipment and skins, has provided room for further diverse versions, Lin explained.

During the Beijing Winter Games, which coincided with the Chinese New Year in 2022, a special festival edition of Bing Dwen Dwen dressed in a costume featuring tiger elements was introduced to celebrate the Year of the Tiger.

Following the tiger version, in December of the same year, a rabbit-themed version was also unveiled for the Year of Rabbit.

When the rabbit version of Bing Dwen Dwen was released, many were curious about what it would look like. Given that everyone has a different zodiac sign, they are eager to see their zodiac represented in the form of an Olympic mascot, Lin said.

"If there is a chance, we hope to make all 12 Chinese zodiac versions of Bing Dwen Dwen, to meet everyone's expectations, this is, of course, a very meaningful thing," Lin told the Global Times.

Zheng Sining contributed to the report.