February 3 marks Chinese New Year. This year is the Year of the Rabbit and Las Vegas' Bellagio hotel is getting in on the celebration. Bellagio's Conservatory & Botanical Gardens has been turned into a serene sanctuary guided by the ancient practice of Feng Shui that is on display now through March 5.
The centerpiece of this exhibit is a 35-foot Chinese junk boat with a 38-foot mast inspired by traditional 15th century fishing vessels. The boat was created using teak, mahogany and cedar by Daniels Wood Land, Inc. – which is best known for building full-scale replicas of The Black Pearl for Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie franchise. The boat is surrounded by a zig-zag bridge and leads to a wing-tipped Ming Dynasty-styled gazebo.
A 12-foot rabbit with a coat comprised of more than 4,500 live sedge plants, watches over eight babies at play within a forest of bamboo trees and Taihu rocks. An 18-foot-tall Chinese God of Prosperity is found amidst gold leafed I-Ching coins and is flanked by two Ming Dynasty-styled dings, ancestral vessels that protect against bad fortunes. There are also seven replica Terracotta Warriors, covered in crushed walnuts and ground carrot seeds, accompanied by a horse-drawn carriage. The original Terracotta Army was buried with the First Emperor Qin in 210-209 BC in the Shaanxi Province and later discovered in 1974 by a group of farmers digging a well. Oversized red silk Chinese lanterns throughout the Conservatory add to the auspicious nature of the exhibit.
The rabbit serves as a symbol of fortune and longevity. Those born in the Year of the Rabbit tend to be lucky, articulate and ambitious.