Ambassadors Of Peace
If you are a fan of Winnie the Pooh and Yogi Bear, then the United Buddy Bears exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, may just be your cup of tea. Featuring over 140 life-size fiberglass bears painted by artists from nations all over the world, the United Buddy Bears carry an important message about global peace, tolerance and friendship.
Since the first exhibition in Berlin in 2002, more than 25 million visitors world-wide have been able to admire the United Buddy Bears.
It has travelled to more than 15 countries, with Malaysia being the first country in south-east Asia to host the exhibition.
The bears were originally developed by German entrepreneurs Klaus and Eva Herlitz with sculptor Roman Strobl as part of the Buddy Bear Berlin Show in 2001. As the bear is Berlin's emblem, it was envisaged to capture the hearts of Berliners and visitors in various different designs.
Soon, the idea to have a larger collection of Buddy Bears to represent countries in the United Nations, called the United Buddy Bear Project, was born. It proved to be a winner with proceeds from the auction of bear sculptures channeled to help children in need all over the world.
Each Buddy Bear is unique and special. Its designs normally take themes from everyday lives, incorporating patterns such as flowers, nature, animals, folklore or people. The designs are transferred onto the bear with acrylic paint and sealed with two coats of UV-resistant lacquer.
Since children are particularly fond of bears, the exhibit provides an excellent opportunity to teach children about the history, culture and flora and fauna of different countries.
Standing 'hand in hand' in a circle, the United Buddy Bears symbolise the future vision of a peaceful world. Each bear stands for the people of a different country and their culture.
One of the highlights during the exhibition was the unveiling of the Malaysia Bear, painted by renowned Malaysian artist, Imuda, with pictures which depict the country's main races, flora and fauna and famous landmarks.
In addition to the United Buddy Bears, four special bears provide further ideas for a peaceful co-existence.
Two golden bears hold a heart between their paws to represent the Golden Rule of "treat everyone as you would like to be treated".
An Einstein bear is etched with the quote "Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding".
A silver bear expresses "respect for all lives" and a Global Ethic bear features quotations to emphasise the common denominator of all world religions.
Launched on December 8, 2011, the United Buddy Bears exhibition will run until February 15, 2012 at the Pavilion KL.