As prescribed by Paulina Constancia

Living Lanterns (1) – From China with Love

Just recently I noticed how most stores in Singapore are selling these colorful hanging decorations in different shapes and designs. I asked the lady at the till what they were for. And she said they’re lanterns and that the lantern festival is coming.

As I researched about this festival, I discovered that it happens around February so I figured I was misinformed. What’s coming at the end of September is not the Chinese Lantern Festival but the Mid-Autumn Festival. So this week we’ll see how the Chinese living tradition of lanterns has spread across the world. Does it continue to be relevant? And how does this practice affect communities? the environment?

Let’s start today with the invention of the lantern – “From China with Love”.
Typical Chinese Red Lanterns
Image Source
Lanterns: From China with Love
Info Source
Chinese red lanterns have a long history, and they have become a well-known symbol of Chinatowns worlwide. While the earliest Chinese lanterns were created for practical use in the house and as entrance-way lighting, they eventually became highly ornamental, and a status symbol.

This is evident from how the red lanterns are extensively used in Qiao Family’s Compound, built in the Qing Dynasty, as well as at the gates to the Siheyuan housing compounds, typical of Beijing, but also seen elsewhere in China.

Photo of Qiao Family’s Compound

The Chinese lantern originated as an improvement of the open flame. The shade not only protects the flame inside from being extinguished in windy weather, but also provides a more diffused form of lighting.

It was also quickly discovered that the lantern made an excellent “flashlight”, or portable light.

Some historians believe that the concept of street lighting in Europe stemmed from European contact with Imperial China, where “street lighting” had long existed in the form of Chinese lanterns hanging on doors and gateways.
Read more on the History of the Chinese Lantern
More on Chinese Lanterns
Info Source
Chinese Lanterns have changed very little over their history of many centuries and have been used for nearly two thousand years.

Flying Lanterns, which are filled with hot air created by the candle-like fuel cell inside them, were invented in China by Zhuge Liang, the chancellor of Shu Han, or the famous Chinese  strategist – Kong Min OR Chu Ko Liang – all have been credited for their invention. Sky Lanterns were invented as a military aid, used as a method of communication on the battlefield. Chinese Lanterns are widely thought to be the world’s first hot-air balloon – the first un-manned balloon of course!

During the Yuan Dynasty, which began in the 13th century, Chinese Lanterns became a symbol of hope and good wishes.

Flying Lanterns are now traditionally released with a wish to bring good luck & prosperity in the coming year – most popular for the Chinese New Year that sees literally millions of Flying Lanterns launched over a two week period.
Check out some traditional Chinese lanterns

Curious to see the latest designs 
in the world of lanterns?

the UK’s and Europe’s leading distributor 
of Chinese paper lanterns.

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This entry was posted on September 23, 2012 by in Uncategorized.
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