What started as the world's first portable lighting tool has ended up being an icon of China. Lanterns have been a key part of Chinese festive celebrations for over two thousand years. The origin and evolvement of the traditional handicraft of lanterns, as well as how heavy it weighs on the minds of Chinese people.

As the first full moon of the new year rises, people come out to enjoy the spectacle of colorful lanterns, blazing in the night. It's an ages-old activity attached to the Lantern Festival.

It is said the festival evolved from an ancient Chinese belief that celestial spirits could be seen flying about in the evening of the day. People first used torches to aid them in their search for the spirits. These torches later gave way to lanterns.

In ancient China, lanterns hanging from pedestrian districts to river banks, making a grand scene which inspired lasting pieces of poetry.

These glowing works of art cover a diverse range of themes... from nature to folklore, from history to ancient wisdom. Their shapes have also undergone endless development in the hands of generations of craftsmen.

While most of today's lanterns are mass produced in the industrialized country, still there remain a handful of old-school artists. They jealously guard the traditional methods of lantern making that have been used for centuries. A typical procedure involves several steps including assembling wire frames,seaming and painting.

Among the extensive family of lanterns, the cherry-like ones are the traditional mainstay. The red and round lanterns, known as "palace lanterns" have become an image synonymous with China. With its sacred hue and the lucky roundness of yuan, the lanterns are taken as the supreme totem of good fortune.

Luo Chen, Beijing, said, “Every year, tens of thousands of lanterns are hung in the Qianmen area for the Lantern Festival, making it one of the "reddest" places in Beijing. No one would deny that lanterns occupy a special place in Chinese culture, as well as in Chinese people's hearts. They are a sign of warmth and home wherever they are seen.”


portable lighting tool:便携式照明工具
Lantern Festival:元宵节
celestial spirits:天神
gave way to:为…所代替
pedestrian district:行人区
river bank:河堤,河岸
in the hands of:由……照管
a handful of:少量的
old-school artists:老派艺术家
wire frames:线框
palace lanterns:宫灯
image synonymous:形象代名词