The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s (SFMTA) Central Subway Project joined the Chinatown Community Development Center to officially announce Carin Mui as the winner of the Chinatown Plaza Couplet Contest at a press event on June 24.
Pictured left to right: Charles Egan, San Francisco State University Professor of Chinese; Joseph Leung, Singtao Newspaper Chief Editor; Carin Mui, long time San Francisco local and winning author of the Chinatown Plaza Couplet Contest; Terry Luk, Calligrapher; and SFMTA Central Subway Project Director John Funghi.
In April, the search began for a couplet, which is a pair of prose that is similar in meaning that phonetically rhymes, to be turned into art that will adorn the entryway of the Chinatown Plaza at the Chinatown Station of the T Third Line Central Subway extension. A panel of three judges reviewed the 120 entries that were submitted from various places such as San Francisco, neighboring Bay Area cities, Southern California, East Coast, and overseas.
Mui’s winning couplet reads, “In the past, we traveled across the Pacific to mine for gold; Now, we break through earth to form a silver dragon.” The expression reflects on the great sacrifice of Mui’s ancestors and the first Chinese sojourners who labored to create a better life. It also alludes to the Central Subway trains, which will provide important transportation connectivity, as the silver dragon.
In true tradition, if placed outside of a door, the couplet blessing or idiom is meant to greet and welcome visitors. Mui’s couplet will be transcribed into calligraphy by Terry Luk, and imprinted onto red opaque glass with black lettering outside of the Chinatown Plaza to greet visitors of Chinatown.
When open for revenue service in 2019, the Central Subway will provide an important service linking the northern and southern parts of the city to community, the arts and commerce.