Paper Lanterns

Find your favorite paper lantern!

The History and the Beauty of Paper Lantern Lights

Paper lantern lights, especially those coming from the flying paper lanterns that are so magnificently displayed in the sky during many festivals and occasions in Asia, are very enchanting to the eyes. They are not just splendid displays but their beauty gives people inspiration, and provides some kind of a reflecting moment.

But where did the use of paper lanterns start? The following are some interesting facts of history that you might want to know about the origin of the paper lantern lights.

 Paper Lantern Lights Origin: Chinese Lantern Festival

The Chinese history is said to be the source of origin of the first display of lights from paper lamps. The paper lantern lights date back during the Han Dynasty when the Emperor Han Ming Di learned about the significance of lighting a lantern during the fifteenth night of the first lunar month. This ritual, as what he had learned from a monk, is a form of giving respect to the Buddha. Being a man of Buddhism, the emperor then ordered every household, palace, and temple to light their paper lanterns at that time.

Today, the festival is celebrated during the first month of the lunar year, on the fifteenth day. In China, the celebration is called the Yuanxiao Festival/Shangyuan Festival. However, in Singapore, Malaysia and in Indonesia, the festival is called Chap Goh Meh Festival. During these times of the festivity, children go out with their paper lantern lights to the temple and play riddles and other games with each other. Aside from the display of lights from paper lamps, there are also fire dragon dancing and lighting of fireworks. One more fun tradition in celebrating the Chinese Lantern Festival is eating Yuanxiao, a special glutinous rice ball filled with different kinds of stuffing.

 Paper Lantern Lights Origin: Mid-Autumn Festival

Paper Lantern LightsAnother part of the Chinese history that contributes to the origin of the festival of paper lantern lights dates back during the Tang Dynasty. This historical account is specifically considered to be the origin of the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Cake Festival, in China when people celebrate a time of successful harvest. At that time, the emperor ordered the construction of numerous lanterns hung in towers that were lavishly decorated with jade, silver, gold and other valuable gems. This event made the night of the celebration a sight to behold because of the magnificent lights display.

Today, the Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated every fifteenth night of the eight month by carrying colorful paper lantern lights, lighting flying and floating paper lantern lights, and hanging paper lantern lights on towers and other tall buildings. Other traditions during this festival include burning incense, dances of the popular fire dragon, matchmaking, and eating moon cakes.

Paper Lanterns Legend

Aside from the historical facts, mythical legends about the paper lantern lights are also interesting part of the paper lantern origins. There’s more than one legendary account of how display of lights from paper lamps became a popular practice in China. One of them is about the wrath of an emperor of the heavens who ordered the soldiers to burn a whole village because of the death of a sacred bird done by one of the village hunters. The good daughter of the heaven emperor informed the villagers of the emperor’s plan. A village elderly came up with the idea of lighting paper lanterns for 3 nights during the 1st lunar month so that the heaven emperor would think the whole village is already burning in fire. The plan was a success. Since then, people celebrate the success by displaying paper lantern lights on the fifteenth night of the first lunar month.

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Some Tips on How to Make Paper Lanterns

Paper lanterns can be immensely beautiful and delightful to the eyes and the good thing is how to make paper lanterns is not that difficult. There are many kinds of paper lanterns that one can choose from. There are the awesome flying paper lanterns that can make the night sky a hundred times more captivating, the floating paper lanterns that can make a body of water some place like a habitat of elves and fairies, and of course the normal paper lanterns hanging silently but nonetheless charmingly.

How to make paper lanterns is different with each type of paper lantern one may choose to make. What’s fun on how to make paper lanterns by yourself is that you can alter some of the usual steps on how to create paper lamps by putting in your own creative juices into making a unique and maybe more personal paper lanterns. But before you can do that, try to know or perhaps master first the basic steps on how to create paper lamps. The following is a helpful guide on how to make paper lanterns:

How to Make Paper Lanterns: Simple and Basic

The most basic type of paper lanterns is cylindrical. These lanterns look fancier if added with designs such as drawings, use of different colors and paper cut designs. How to make paper lanterns of this kind is very easy to do.

  1. Prepare a piece of paper. Make your own designs on the paper such as making some drawings, paintings or decorative cuts on it. It can be a flower, plants, etc. One typical design on it is done by folding the piece of paper lengthwise and cutting some lines along the folded edge so when you unfold the paper, there’ll be simple but cute designs on it.
  2. Roll the paper into a cylinder and glue/tape the edges together.
  3. How to Make Paper LanternsPrepare a ribbon or a yarn. Secure the ribbon/yarn on the top edge of the cylindrical paper. You can make tiny holes on the paper or glue/tape the ribbons. This is for hanging the lantern.
  4. Measure the cylindrical lantern’s diameter and use the measurement to prepare a circular cardboard with tabs to be attached to the paper lantern.
  5. Place a small battery operated light bulb on the base of the cardboard then turn it on. You now have your paper lantern.

How to Make Paper Lanterns: Floating Paper Lamps

Floating paper lanterns are common in the Japanese festivals. One example is the ‘toro nagashi’ ceremony where the Japanese floats their paper lanterns into the river with the belief that the light will guide the departed’s spirit to the world they belong to. How to make paper lanterns, the floating type, is very easy.

The steps are basically the same with the previous one. But there’ll be no ribbons and the base of the lantern should be a coaster that floats in the water instead of a cardboard. Also, instead of a battery-operated small tap light, a candle is placed on top of the floating coaster. The coaster is secured to the paper lantern with the use of a tape or glue. You now have a floating paper lantern.

How to Make Paper Lanterns: Sky Paper Lamps

How to make paper lanterns that can be flown up in the sky can be more difficult than making the simple types of paper lanterns. Instead of using regular papers, the use of tissues, paper towels, and other lightweight paper is preferred on how to make sky paper lamps. How to make paper lanterns of any type is a simple yet artistic activity. You can browse the internet for more tips on how to make paper lanterns of different types.

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Handmade Paper Lamps

Paper lamps are quite common. They provide a soft ambiance for the home and the office. Not only that, it can also be used on exhibits, parties, weddings and other numerous occasions. Paper lamps can also be placed outdoors to add a romantic mood on a specific theme.

Moreover, paper lamps have been around for centuries with paper as its main material. In fact, traditional Chinese lamps are simply made out of rice paper with a lighted candle.

But as years pass by, creating paper lamps has required more creativity and imagination. At present, designers use sturdy paper made of polyester and cellulose while some still use fabric paper or the traditional rice paper. Others explore the techniques they use in creating the layout such as cutting, folding or puncturing the material.

How to make a paper lamp

Since paper has been proven and is perfect for making lamps and lanterns, a non-designer can easily experiment with different designs and techniques to transform it into perfect paper lamps. To create paper lamps, one will need to choose a type of paper and draft a design to make the designing process easier. In addition, also prepare the following materials: clips, designing materials, glue, ribbon, scissors, wire ring and light bulb.

To start with, cut the sides of the paper enough for it to make a cylinder. Next is to decorate it using markers, paint, stencils or puncturing tools to layout the design. Make sure to only decorate the middle part leaving out two inches of the top and the bottom part of the paper for the wire rings.

paper lampsUsing the clips, attach and secure the paper into the wire ring forming a cylinder shape. Do some adjustments and mark out where the ribbon will be placed. Then, remove paper from the wire ring and glue the paper forming a cylinder shape. Leave it to dry.

Next, put some glue on the interior edge of the cylinder and place the wire ring on top. Secure it using clips and leave it to dry. After that, flip it over, do the same thing on the bottom part and place the second wire ring.

When it’s all dried up, glue the ribbon on the top and bottom part of the lamp. Make sure to cover both interior and exterior edge of the paper. Lastly, place a light bulb inside the cylinder and light the lamp.

This is only a simple way to create a lamp from paper. One can always experiment on the color, design and shape of the lamp.

Paper Lamps Precautions

Lamps from paper are hazardous, so be careful when using one. To reduce the risk of fire, the following can be done:

Use a suitable light bulb. Choose the ones that have less heat like CFC bulbs. Do not use halogens because they have a high heat level that can cause fire. In addition, the bulb wattage should be 60-100 watts.
Secure paper lamps. Turn them off when no one is around. Place it where it will not be knocked over. Avoid placing it on a crowded area. Always check if the electrical cord is tucked properly.
Check the bulb placement. Make sure that the bulb is not close to the paper. Remember to allot at least a three-inch space between the paper and the bulb when creating paper lamps.
Keep them away from children. This may sound cliché, but there is a possibility that children will be playing near them and accidentally knock them over. Thus, causing fire. So place the paper lamps away from the reach of children.

Paper lamps bring soft lights and a relaxing ambiance to a home or occasion. Wherever the setting may be, always check it regularly so that the paper lamps will continuously bring a positive ambiance.

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How to Make a Chinese Paper Lantern

Chinese Lanterns are beautiful festive lights that brighten the sky. They are commonly used on festivals but can likewise be displayed anytime in any place. However, some lanterns can be quite expensive depending on the design and size.

If one is interested to create one, there are simpler ways to get that desired lantern. Below are instructions on how to make a Chinese lantern.

How to make a Chinese lantern

Creating a Chinese paper lantern requires: glitter glue (or any decorating material), glue, colored or white paper, pencil, ruler, scissors, stapler and clear tape. Before starting, draft the desired design of the lantern. This will make it easier to create the overall look of lantern.

Now, how to make a Chinese lantern? First lay down the paper and paste the glitter. Make sure to only occupy the middle part of the paper. Using the ruler, measure an inch from the long end of the paper and cut it off. Set the cut paper aside. It will be used as the handle of the paper lantern.

Fold the remaining paper lengthwise and cut strips crosswise. Do not cut the strips off and make sure it stays connected. Then, unfold the paper. Roll the paper into a cylinder shape and attach the short ends together using tape or stapler. Lastly, tape or stapler the lantern handle. And there, it’s done.

This is the simplest way to create a lantern. One can always experiment on how to make a Chinese lantern by using alternative materials. For instance, instead of using paper as handle, use a yarn or a string. One can also use sturdy paper, metal frames, bamboo and bulb light instead of a candle.

Modern Lights

How to Make a Chinese LanternFor centuries, the lantern has been part of the Chinese culture. Since the day it was used to send messages and ward off evil, the Chinese lantern has gotten a lot of innovations throughout the years.

Below are different types of Chinese lanterns

Beijing Style – This type of lantern is made from round steel frames, red silk and gold tassels. The lantern is also design with “ruyi”, a ceremonial scepter or talisman which is known to grant wishes.

Haining Style – This Chinese lantern is also known as pinprick lantern. Basically, it is made of pure bamboo and a paper with at least 10,000 pinpricks depending on the design. To make this, one will have to use the punctured paper technique. When lighted, the pinpricked or punctured panels of the lantern create different effects.

Riddle Lanterns – The name says it all. It is a lantern with a matching riddle on the side. The riddles are usually difficult since a Chinese character can have different meanings. People who attend the Chinese Lantern Festival must do their best to guess the answer. If they find right the answer, they are entitled to win a special gift.

Sky Lantern – This type of Chinese lantern is also called flying lantern. It is made up of flameproof paper that allows warm air inside it. This in turn helps the lantern to rise1000 meters up the sky. This type of lantern symbolizes good wishes for the coming New Year.

Suzhou Style – This lantern is rich in color and varies in shape. They can be shaped like an animal, building, flower or human figures. The paper used are carefully cut and carved.

Wenzhou Style – This is a special kind of Chinese lantern and is known as the Dragon Boat lantern. This is usually large and can be3 meters tall. It is made up of two layers of paper – white on the inside and a colorful one on the outside. The white paper has a drawn figure and once lighted, it illuminates the image.

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Significance of Chinese Paper Lantern

The Chinese paper lantern is a popular decoration for homes, establishments, and occasions. It comes in different colors, designs, shapes and sizes. However, lighting a Chinese paper lantern has a deeper meaning in the Chinese culture.

According to legend, long ago, wild beasts pestered the livelihood and safety of the local folks. To protect themselves, they decided to fight back and kill the wild beasts. Then one day, a sacred bird from the heavens fell to the mortal world. An ignorant hunter saw the sacred bird and thought that it was one of the wild beasts and killed it.

The emperor of heaven learned about the mortals’ action and was very furious. As punishment, he decided to have the mortal world burn to the ground and ordered his soldiers to do it on the 15th day of the first month. However, the daughter of the emperor of heaven did not agree to such a punishment.

Being kind-hearted, she secretly came down to the mortal world and informed the locals of their punishment. The people were frightened and thought of ways to save their lives. Fortunately, a wise old man thought of lighting Chinese paper lantern and fireworks from the 14th to the 16th of the first lunar month.

The time of the punishment came. Seeing the fire and hearing the cracks in heaven, the emperor thought that everything has been burned. For three consecutive days, the locals lighted lanterns and fireworks. And with that, they were able to keep their lives and prosperity. Since then, they started lighting Chinese paper lanterns to dispel darkness from their homes and celebrate their success.

Traditional and Modern

Indeed, the Chinese paper lantern has been around for centuries. In fact, it was first used for military aid, communication medium and a signal during war. According to reports, the first lantern was created by a military strategist and was shaped after his hat. The Chinese paper lantern was made of oiled rice paper, bamboo and a small candle.

Chinese Paper LanternMoreover, it was traditionally used to decorate homes of both noble and peasants during festivals as it represents hope and prosperity. Besides that, the lantern was also used on important ceremonies. During wedding rites, a white Chinese paper lantern is decorated with characters of wishes and released to the sky. It is believed that the good wishes or messages placed were carried to the gods.

The traditional use of the Chinese paper lantern is still evident nowadays. Not only that is has also evolved in terms of color and size. The most common Chinese paper lantern is colored red. However, it does not only symbolize love. In Chinese culture, red has a deeper significance. Red lanterns bring happiness and warmth that reunite families especially on New Year’s Day. It also means energy, birth and marriage.

A blue colored Chinese paper lantern means that someone is ill. White lantern symbolizes mourning and death. For the size, it depends on the social status of the homeowners. Wealthy people display large lanterns made of silk or velvet while rural folks display homemade Chinese paper lanterns.

Types of Lanterns

As the Chinese lantern made from paper became popular, it evolved into different types. The smallest is called Baby’s Bottom. It is so small that it is commonly used as a Christmas decoration. Next is called Buddha Gastronomy, the largest type of lantern. These are often displayed outside or near temples. Another is Crystal Magic. This is mostly made of bamboo and requires craftsmanship.

Furthermore, Tomato Light lanterns are round and more personal. One can choose the color and relate meaning to it. Rolling Papers are large geometric-shaped lanterns. They are more modern compared to others because of the abstract design. And lastly is the Name Lantern. This is the most personal of all the types wherein the lantern is painted with the name of the owner.

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