Lufsig

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Five Lufsig dolls inside an IKEA store in Taipei, Taiwan

Lufsig is a stuffed toy wolf sold at Swedish furniture chain IKEA. The toy, designed by German designer Silke Leffler (de), is inspired by the fairy tale "Little Red Riding Hood" as a representation of the Big Bad Wolf. The plush was sold as part of IKEA's annual Soft Toys for Education campaign, where the company donates a portion from each toy sold towards various causes. The name "Lufsig" is derived from the Swedish verb "lufsa", meaning "to lumber".

In December 2013, the toy became a symbol of opposition to the Hong Kong government, after an incident during a town hall event where a Lufsig was thrown by a protester at Chief Executive CY Leung (who had been nicknamed "the wolf" by his critics). Following the incident (and the discovery that its transliterated Chinese name sounds similar to a profanity when pronounced in Cantonese), Lufsig experienced a surge in popularity, selling out at IKEA stores in Hong Kong, as well as in 11 out of 14 stores in mainland China.

Development[edit]

Lufsig was designed by German designer Silke Leffler, drawing inspiration from the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood.[1] The toy consists of a wolf, wearing a red checked shirt and braces, and the diminutive grandmother which fits inside the wolf's belly.[2] Lufsig was sold as part of IKEA's 10th annual Soft Toys for Education campaign, where a portion of the profit from IKEA's stuffed toys and accompanying storybooks sold during the holiday season would be donated by IKEA to UNICEF and Save the Children.[3][4] The name of the toy is an adjective form of the Swedish verb "lufsa", which means "to lumber".[5] The product was sold as "Lufsig" in Hong Kong and Taiwan, but was named "路姆西" (pinyin: Lù mǔ xi) within Mainland China.[6][7]

Symbolism in Hong Kong[edit]

The Hong Kong rap duo Softhard with a Lufsig doll

CY Leung, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, has suffered low popularity ratings since his election in 2012. Of particular criticism was the election process itself, where the new Chief Executive was chosen by the Election Committee, a group of 1200 individuals, many of whom belong to the pro-Beijing camp. The election of Leung, combined with speculation during the campaign that Leung was connected to the Communist Party of China, sparked a pro-democracy movement and protests calling for the adoption of universal suffrage in Hong Kong.[8][9] His approval ratings among citizens reached a record low in December 2013.[10][11] Critics of Leung have nicknamed him "the Wolf", alluding to his alleged cunningness, and as a pun of his name and the Chinese word for wolf.[4]

On 7 December 2013, during a town hall meeting, a Lufsig plush toy was thrown at Leung by an anti-government protester.[4] Following the incident, it was also discovered that the transliteration of Lufsig's name as listed on IKEA's Mainland Chinese website, "路姆西" (pronounced as louh móuh sāi in Cantonese), could be misinterpreted as profanity; in particular, louh móuh sāi could be read as a pun on lóuh móu hāi ("老母閪", lit. "mother's vagina"), and that the expression "丟你路姆西" (dīu néih louh móuh sāi, lit. "throw your Lufsig" or "throw a Lufsig at you"), could be a pun on the vulgar phrase "𨳒你老母閪" (díu néih lóuh móu hāi), which can be translated as "fuck your mother's vagina."[7][10][12][13]

Following the incident, Lufsig experienced a surge in popularity in Hong Kong; people lined up outside IKEA's three Hong Kong locations the next morning to purchase the toy, which were sold out within hours.[4][7] The popularity soon extended to mainland China (where 11 of the 14 IKEA stores sold out), and even to Canada.[14] A Lufsig Facebook page amassed over 45,000 likes, and Lufsigs were being put up for sale in auctions for a symbolic HK$689 – 689 being the number of votes Leung received in the election.[4][13][15][16]

On 11 December 2013, Leung himself posted a picture of himself with a Lufsig he bought for his daughter, and praised the "creativity" of Hong Kong people.[11] IKEA called the unintended pun "unfortunate" the same day, and changed the official Chinese name to "路福西" (pronounced as "Lufuxi" in Putonghua and as "louh fūk sāi" in Cantonese), incorporating a Chinese character meaning "good fortune".[2][11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ LUFSIG – Soft toy, wolf $99.9 Archived 13 December 2013 at WebCite. IKEA Hong Kong. Archived from the original on 13 December 2013.
  2. ^ a b "CY gobbles up critics' wolf cries" Archived 10 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine.. The Standard, 12 December 2013
  3. ^ "Ikea and Unicef ensure soft toys are an education". The Independent. Retrieved 4 January 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Ikea toy wolf becomes Hong Kong protest symbol". BBC News. 10 December 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  5. ^ Liljas, Per (10 December 2013). "Stuffed IKEA Toy Becomes Offensive Anti-Government Symbol in Hong Kong". Time.
  6. ^ Friendly (10 December 2013). "Hong Kong Most Wanted Toys: IKEA Lufsig". Invasion Magazine.
  7. ^ a b c Chan, Yuen (9 December 2013). "IKEA Toy Wolf Becomes Unlikely Anti-Government Symbol in Hong Kong". Huffington Post. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  8. ^ "CY Leung: The troubles of Hong Kong's unloved leader". BBC News. Retrieved 4 January 2014. 
  9. ^ "CY Leung elected Hong Kong's new leader". BBC News. Retrieved 4 January 2014. 
  10. ^ a b "Ikea stuffed wolf sells out amid Hong Kong fury". The Local. 10 December 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  11. ^ a b c "Ikea Wolf Toy Gets Renamed in China After Old One Deemed Vulgar". Bloomberg. 11 December 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2013. 
  12. ^ "Hong Kong toymakers upset over stuffed symbol of protest Lufsig the wolf". South China Morning Post. 10 December 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2013. 
  13. ^ a b McBain, Sophie (10 December 2013). "How Lufsig the cuddly wolf became a Hong Kong protest symbol – A short lesson in the art of mistranslating names into Chinese." The New Statesman.
  14. ^ "IKEA toy wolf popular in Canada after being thrown at HK chief executive" Archived 16 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine.. Want China Times, 15 December 2013
  15. ^ Streder, Ruth (12 December 2013). "Lufsig Or How A Wolf Taught A Communications Lesson"
  16. ^ "Cuddly wolf sinks teeth into Leung" Archived 14 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine.. The Standard, 11 December 2013

External links[edit]