White, red, green, and blue. Indeed, there is nothing more lovely and vibrant than bright Chinese paper lanterns
that stand out especially during night time. Decorative paper lanterns are traditionally used for cultural celebrations and festivals such the Chinese New year. Today, paper lanterns
are used for almost every occasion, from weddings to parties, as paper lanterns now come in almost every imaginable colors, shapes, and sizes.
The history of Chinese lanterns
dates back about two thousand years ago. However, these colorful lanterns
were not first used for decorative purposes. Instead, it was created for military aid purposes. A popular military strategist Zhuge Liang created the first flying lantern in China. According to accounts, the shape of the first paper lantern was patterned after the hat that Liang was wearing. It was made from oiled rice paper fitted on a bamboo frame. Inside, a small candle produces the hot air, which then allows the balloon to rise up.
This type of lantern
was intended as a communication medium on the battlefield. Lanterns were first utilized at the advent of the third century as it is used as a signal as well as a spy blimp during war. Lanterns was first referred to as sky candles.
By the dawn of the Yuan Dynasty, these paper lanterns
were alternately used as symbols of hope and good wishes. Sky lanterns were used in many rituals, as it is believed that it can carry messages to the gods. People would inscribe words such as heavenly lanterns
or divine lanterns
as they hung them outside their houses.
Similarly, these paper lanterns were also used in many ceremonial practices such as weddings. White gauze paper lanterns were often utilized during these ceremonies along with four red paper letters attached to it. The characters adorned on the lanterns would include expressions regarding respect as well as wishes for a hundred children and a thousand grandchildren.Paper lanterns
were also used to represent the return of spring. Lantern festivals
are usually held during this time. Chinese people believe that Lantern Festivals symbolizes the relation of people, nature, and higher beings which made it possible for the light of the spring to return every year.
Seton, G T, Chinese Lanterns, Dodd, Mead, and Company, New York, 1924.
Spolidoro, A, Chinese Lanterns. Chinese Historical Society of Southern California,
2009, Retrieved 24 January 2010