TEA LEAVES

茶话会

The World of Chinese - - Contents - – SUN JIAHUI (孙佳慧)

Cho­sen from over three mil­lion par­tic­i­pants to win the Ali­pay “Chi­nese Koi Lucky Draw,” Ma Huix­ian is not only swim­ming in lux­ury prizes, meal vouch­ers, and in­ter­na­tional travel tick­ets—but is now con­sid­ered a good luck charm.

“Does this mean I don’t have to work for the rest of my life?” Ma, who is known as “Xinx­i­ao­dai” on Weibo, posted. The an­swer is no (un­less you can live on high­end hair­cuts alone), but the post was shared by nearly 8 mil­lion users, giv­ing the 25-year-old en­gi­neer over a mil­lion Weibo fol­low­ers and the dis­tinc­tion of be­ing named “2018 Ali­pay’s Chi­nese Koi.”

In Chi­nese cul­ture, the koi, or “col­or­ful carp,” has long been as­so­ci­ated with good for­tune. In the Spring and Au­tumn pe­riod, Con­fu­cius named his son 鲤(carp), and wealthy fam­i­lies of­ten kept a koi pond in the yard, be­cause it was be­lieved that the fish brought good feng shui.

Nowa­days, the fish is as­so­ci­ated with chain mail (“for­ward for good luck!”): “Koi King,” a Weibo ac­count which sim­ply posts dif­fer­ent pic­tures of koi, is fol­lowed by over 16 mil­lion users, each ap­par­ently hop­ing that gaz­ing at a dig­i­tal fish will give them an edge in the gaokao or job in­ter­views. Lucky or

suc­cess­ful in­di­vid­u­als are an al­ter­na­tive to ac­tual fish—leonardo Dicaprio’s photo was also for­warded as a lucky charm after he fi­nally won an Os­car for The Revenant.

In­evitably, as the trend leaked into the en­ter­tain­ment world, it has be­come more tongue-in-cheek. Yang Chaoyue, a con­tes­tant on tal­ent show Pro­duce 101, was crit­i­cized for her medi­ocre singing and danc­ing, but nev­er­the­less made it to third place in the fi­nale. Yang’s pic­ture be­came a meme with the mildly satiric cap­tion “For­ward this Yang Chaoyue, you can se­cure third place in ex­ams with­out work­ing hard.”

Like­wise, su­per­model Ming Xi, in­fa­mous for stum­bling dur­ing the Shang­hai Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret show, was granted koi sta­tus after she was named the brand’s Greater China Am­bas­sador in Septem­ber. “For­ward this Ming Xi,” her meme ran, “and re­ceive a pro­mo­tion and a raise after mak­ing a mis­take at work.” Work­ers of the world—good luck!

Ma get­ting in­ter­viewed after win­ning the Ali­pay draw

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