Paper Lanterns in Chinese and Japanese Cultures

Consider the patterned paper lantern. When you close your eyes and try to visualize one, you get an image of a round or cylindrical object glowing with light. Perhaps, it is colored. Maybe, you see a red one with a dragon on it.

While they are now an exclusive part of Asian cultures. When you visualize a lantern in your mind, you usually see Chinese or Japanese paper lanterns. Let's take a look at the origin and evolution of paper lanterns in Chinese and Japanese cultures.

In China as well as Japan, patterned paper lanterns were originally used as part of festivals and celebrations. Usually, the widespread use of lanterns in China is thought to have started with the Mid-Autumn Festival. This festival predicts the use of paper lanterns by hundreds of years. An enormous tower of lantern towers (decorated with jewels and precious gems) to celebrate. Autumn festival one year.

They are built as a symbol of the lanterns towers. This tradition continued for long, and the use of patterned paper lanterns took root in China. Later, this tradition would be fertile ground in several other Asian countries neighboring China.

The art of making paper came to Japan through China. During the ancient times, paper was believed to do that would help drive away evil spirits. Paper was distributed by the priests who gave it to few people. Once the Japanese learns the art of paper making, many existing festivals. Shinto temples were especially known for making paper in different shapes, sizes and colors. The use of such lanterns in Japan's Festival of Dead (Japanese Lantern Festival) sealed their place in Japanese culture.

With time, lanterns made from paper became an important part of the life of Chinese and Japanese people. Most festivals incorporated lanterns made from paper or silk into the celebration rituals. The quality of the lanterns increased over time, and several types of lanterns were created. With the advent of writing and printing, patterned paper lanterns replaced plain lanterns.

China came up with fantastic lanterns with names like Baby's Bottom, Big Red, Crystal Magic and Buddha's Gastronomy. Japan invented a special type of lettering called the chocin moji to decorate the lanterns. It also invented several different types of lanterns including the world famous Gifu lanterns. Over time, people started to associate certain types of lanterns to certain types of festivals.

Today, all kinds of paper-based lanterns are used in China and Japan for a variety of purposes. Not only are they used during festivals, weddings and other celebrations, but they are also used to light up commercial places and homes. The fame of Chinese and Japanese lanterns has spread throughout the world, and people in faraway countries from US, UK and Europe also use the lanterns as decorations and ambient lighting.
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