Ancestral lanterns

lanterns (12 February 2015)

Ancestral lanterns (12 February 2015)

A week before this year’s Chinese New Year (19 February 2015), I noticed these red lanterns hanging outside the Ancestral restaurant in Courtenay Place, Wellington. I was glad I stopped to photograph them: they were gone again following day.

“Although some people decorate their houses several days before the festival, most people do it at New Year’s Eve. Houses are decorated with red lanterns, red couplets, New Year paintings, and red lanterns. 2015 is the year of the goat, so goat images will appear” (China Highlights: Activities for New Year’s Eve).

“Six is the number of strokes that comprise the character 羊, the forthcoming [Chinese] lunar year’s name. Pronounced yang, the character can mean either sheep or goat” (The Guardian).

In late May 2011, Wellington’s grandest Chinese restaurant emerged “in all its sinister elegance”. Ancestral is aptly located at the heart of Courtenay Place, the capital’s erstwhile Chinatown.

“Allistar Cox, designer of Matterhorn, has brought his characteristic style to this multi-million-dollar extravaganza – restaurant, garden bar, whisky bar, private dining room and takeaway outlet – using satin-finished dark wood to good effect with hard, thinly padded Chinese-style banquettes,” wrote David Burton in Cuisine issue #149 | Wednesday, 30 November, 2011

“If the opium poppy logo, gold leaf letterhead, doormen and heavy curtains partly screening out the dark interior all convey the impression of a triad-owned outpost from 1930s Shanghai, then this is fully intended,” explains Burton, who goes on to describe the garden bar out the back: “old brick walls also exude the ambience of the era.”

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