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From left to right: Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying and Nini
Literal meaningdolls of blessing

The Fuwa (Chinese: 福娃; pinyin: Fúwá; literally "good-luck dolls", also known as "Friendlies") were the mascots of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. The designs were created by Han Meilin, a famous Chinese artist.[1] The designs were publicly announced by the National Society of Chinese Classic Literature Studies on 11 November 2005 at an event marking the 1000th day before the opening of the games.

There are five Fuwas: Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying and Nini. Together, the names form the sentence "", or "Beijing huanying ni," which means "Beijing welcomes you". Originally named 'The Friendlies', they were promoted as 'Fuwa' when concerns arose that the name could be misinterpreted.[2][3]

While originally given artistic licence in his commission, Han Meilin was subsequently requested by officials to include various Chinese designs and fauna in the Fuwa. Han Meilin drew 1,000 models of possible Fuwa (including a dragon and an anthropomorphic drum) before settling on the five characters. He has since disowned the Fuwa and did not include them in his museum.[4]


Name Beibei (贝贝) Jingjing (晶晶) Huanhuan (欢欢) Yingying (迎迎) Nini (妮妮)
Gender Female Male Male Male Female
Representing Continent Europe Africa America Asia Oceania
Cultural inspiration

Traditional Chinese New Year decorative picture of lotus and fish; fish design from Neolithic artifacts.

Giant panda; Song Dynasty lotus-shaped porcelain.

Olympic flame; Fire design from the Mogao Grottoes.

Tibetan antelope, Tibetan and Xinjiang ethnic costumes.

Swift; Beijing's sand martin kite.

Olympic Ring Blue Black Red Yellow Green
Represented Element[5] Sea Forest Fire Earth Sky
Actual Fengshui Element[6] Water Wood Fire Earth Metal
Personality Friendly, leader Honest, optimistic Extrovert, enthusiastic Lively, independent Just, kind
Represented ideal Prosperity Happiness Passion Health Good fortune
Represented sport aquatic sports weightlifting, judo, etc. ball sports/racquet sports track and field gymnastics
Notes In traditional Chinese culture, the fish represents prosperity, as the character for fish (鱼 / 魚) sounds the same as that for surplus (余 / 餘). The "carp leaping over the dragon gate" is a traditional allegory of following one's dreams and achieving them. The pattern from Beibei's headgear comes from artifacts unearthed at Banpo, site of a Neolithic village of the Yangshao culture. As an endangered species, the panda is both a national symbol of China and an international symbol of environmentalism. Jingjing's forest origins also symbolize the harmonious coexistence of humankind and nature. Huanhuan represents the passion of sports, the Olympic spirit of "faster, higher, stronger", and the passion of the Beijing Olympics. Huanhuan's headgear comes from a fire design in the Mogao Caves, the best known of the Chinese Buddhist grottoes. The Tibetan antelope is an endangered species native to the Tibetan Plateau, known for its swiftness. Yingying's headgear incorporates elements of Tibetan and Xinjiang ethnic costumes. The swallow is a messenger of spring and happiness in Chinese culture, and is seen as a symbol of good fortune. The Chinese character for swallow (燕) is also used in Yanjing (燕京), an old name for Beijing; thus the swallow alludes to Beijing. Nini's headgear uses the design of Beijing's sand martin kites, which are colourful cross-shaped kites modeled after swallows.


TV series[edit]

The Olympic Adventures of Fuwa (福娃奧運漫遊記)
(Fuwa Orinpikku Manyūki)
GenreSports, Comedy, Supernatural
Anime television series
Original networkCCTV
Original run 6 February 2007 1 October 2007
Anime television series
Fuwa: Beibei's Promise[Note 1]
Original networkCCTV
Original run 1 October 2007 2008
Anime television series
Fuwa: the Five Rings[Note 2]
Original networkCCTV
Original run2008

A 100-episode Olympic-themed anime series featuring the Fuwa was released in China, primarily on BTV (Beijing's municipal television network), on 8 August 2007. Titled The Olympic Adventures of Fuwa (Chinese: 福娃奥运漫游记; pinyin: Fúwá Àoyùn Mànyóujì), it was jointly produced by BTV and Kaku Cartoon. It ran from 8 August 2007 to 1 October 2007.[7]

There are also two sequels created by CCTV, Beibei's Promise and the Five Rings.[8][9]

Video game[edit]

The characters made a cameo appearance in the Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games video game.[citation needed]

China Environmental Awareness Programme[edit]

The China Environmental Awareness Programme program, started in 2001, has the Fuwa raising public environmental awareness by spreading clean, green messages.[10]

Fuwa theater show[edit]

A large-scale fairy-tale drama entitled Friendlies (or Fuwa) has been directed by Beijing Children's Art Theater Cooperative to promote the five mascots of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. As ambassadors of peace, the Fuwa will make a world-tour, visiting all seven continents.[11]


Groups seeking to raise political issues in tandem with China's hosting of the Olympic Games have used the Fuwa or have created similar mascots.

In addition, Beijing residents have allegedly created their own Fuwa set consisting of a duck, a dragonfly and a taxi. Collectively their names—"Ya", "Ting", "De"—spell out "bastard" in Beijing slang.[4] (Note that among friends, "ni ya ting de", which means "you bastard", is a common term of endearment but is considered crude by many.)



Mascots on display in Beijing

In the months leading up to the Olympics, coincidental similarities between the characters and several events became were noted on the internet blogs under titles such as "Curse of the Fuwa".[15][16] Some Chinese citizens have taken to calling the characters "Wuwa" (巫娃, witch dolls). Online criticism of the dolls has frequently been censored.[4]

Killer barracuda[edit]

Beibei is represented by a Chinese sturgeon.[17] Five sturgeons were presented by China to Hong Kong[18] with each fish representing an Olympic ring, in addition to the "motherland's love" for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.[19] The smallest of the five sturgeon (1.1 meters) was bitten by one of the barracudas housed in the same aquarium, and died the day after being publicly released into the city's theme park aquarium Ocean Park.[18][20] Necropsy showed that the bite was not aggressive, but a reflex action from contact between the fish.[21] Ocean Park said no one is at fault since in the almost 10 years the eight barracudas had been with the park, they had never showed any signs of aggression.[21] Feng shui experts were divided about the death of the sturgeon, there were some that said this event may imply misfortune, and there were some that said 'the public did not need to worry too much because all fish die' and 'Can I say it's a bad omen for the Olympic Games if, for example, my five tadpoles—which I say represent the Olympic rings—die at home?'.[22] Beijing's central government replaced the one that died with five more sturgeons.[23]

Han Meilin[edit]

Han Meilin suffered two heart attacks while designing the Fuwa.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chinese: 福娃: 贝贝的诺; pinyin: Fúwá: Bèi bèi de nuò; Japanese: 福娃:ベイベイの約束 (Fuwa: Beibei No Yakusoku)
  2. ^ Chinese: 福娃五连环; pinyin: Fúwá wǔ liánhuán; Japanese: 福娃の五連環 (Fuwa No Gorenkan)


  1. ^ CCTV - retrieved 11 September 2007
  2. ^ "Mascot renamed Fuwa in English". China Daily. 17 October 2006. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  3. ^ F, D (29 November 2006). "Not so friendly anymore". Time Out (November 2006): 6.
  4. ^ a b c d e Geoffrey A. Fowler (23 July 2008). "Here's Another Olympic Sport: Skewering the Mascots". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  5. ^ Beijing official website Archived 1 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Feng Shui FAQs Archived 14 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 2008-07-24.
  7. ^ Wang Wenjie (31 October 2007). "Adventuring With the Mascots". Beijing Review. Retrieved 16 June 2008.
  8. ^ http://tvguide.cctv.com/20071201/101442.shtml
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 December 2018. Retrieved 25 December 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ http://www.undp.org.cn/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&catid=14&topic=6&sid=345&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0 Archived 5 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine Five FuWa to star in a national campaign to promote Green Olympics.
  11. ^ http://www.piao.com.cn/en_piao/ticket_1638.html Large-scale Fairy Tale Friendlies (Fuwa).
  12. ^ Uncensor.com.au "Uncensor." China's Choice: A New Human Rights Record Retrieved on 2008-07-21.
  13. ^ Playfair "[1]." Respect Worker's Rights in the Global Sporting Goods Sector Retrieved on 2008-07-21.
  14. ^ http://blogs.theage.com.au/olympics/ "Meet the evil Olympic mascot Archived 18 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine." Retrieved on 2013-05-24.
  15. ^ Yahoo. "Yahoo Archived 24 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine." Curse of the fuwa. Retrieved on 2008-06-21.
  16. ^ Khaleejtimes. "Khaleejtimes Archived 3 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine." Chinese link earthquake to 'unlucky' Olympic mascots. Retrieved on 2008-05-19.
  17. ^ Olympics.scmp. "Olympics.scmp[permanent dead link]." Fishing for an angle to Olympic fortunes. Retrieved on 2008-07-08.
  18. ^ a b Chinadaily. "Chinadaily." Chinese sturgeon dies in Hong Kong aquarium. Retrieved on 2008-07-18.
  19. ^ Thestandard. "Thestandard.com Archived 5 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine." Blame game all a bit fishy. Retrieved on 2008-07-08.
  20. ^ Monstersandcritics.com. "Monstersandcritics.com Archived 20 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine." Hong Kong red-faced after killing China Olympic mascot fish. Retrieved on 2008-06-25.
  21. ^ a b HKStandard. "HKStandard Archived 5 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine." No one at fault in sturgeon death says Ocean Park. Retrieved on 2008-06-25.
  22. ^ SCMP. "[2][permanent dead link]." Fung shui expert fishing for an angle to Olympic fortunes. Retrieved on 2008-06-25. This link may get relocated like most SCMP links. Look in the archive for the article title.
  23. ^ China.org.cn. "China.org.cn." Beijing to give five more sturgeons to Hong Kong. Retrieved on 2008-07-08.

External links[edit]

Preceded by Olympic mascot
The Fuwa

Beijing 2008
Succeeded by