The peony is the national flower of China. Each year in the spring, there are huge festivals featuring thousands of peonies. It is regarded as a symbolic flower, the ‘queen of flowers,’ associated with prosperity, nobility and elegance. These illuminated peonies lined the walkway as you entered the Chinese Lantern Festival at the Tampa Zoo.
“Qulin (pronounced CHEE_LIN are mythical creatures of a good kind. They are composite beings, often taking the head of a dragon and the body of a tiger or deer. Peaceful, they are said to appear only where wise leaders rule. . . in this scene, four Qilin present a giant pearl as a symbol of blessings to the people. Thousands of medicine bottles filled with colored liquid, then tied together by hand, make up this lantern.” (from sign at Tampa Zoo lantern festival)
What a colorful, amazing creation! When traveling in China, I saw many of these mythical creatures, many in stone or ceramic. Here is one at the gate to Wudanshan in central China, at the base of the wonderful Wudang Mountains, where Taoism is thought to have started and the roots of Tai Chi began.