The city of Luodian’s lantern art has its roots in the distant past. Its colorful patterns originated from folk origami art, which was a way to express mourning for departed spirits. This handicraft developed into a more advanced form, evolving into Festoon lamps. Luodian’s colored lamps have been passed down over several hundred years of history. There is documentation of this art, but the skills have also been passed to future generations through oral transmission.
Varieties of Luodian colored lanterns
1. Hanging lanterns: hexagonal colored lantern, twelve zodiac lantern, butterfly lantern, goldfish lantern, carp lantern, Nippon lily lantern, square lantern, waist-drum dance lantern, Eight Immortals lantern, harmony lantern and three level lantern
2. Sitting lanterns: paper-horse carousel lantern, large pagoda lantern, animal-design lantern, pagoda lantern, Panlong lantern, Liuhai play gold toad lantern, double dragon play pearl lantern and the big break lantern
3. Show lanterns: dragon dance lantern, clamshell lantern, Dang lake boat lantern, cross-stitch basket lantern, lotus lantern, free-the-water lantern, free-the-sky lantern and kite lantern
Luodian colored lantern activities
In the past, Luodian colored lanterns were always a folk-style activity. The 15th of the first month of every lunar year, the Lantern Festival, was the apex of colored lantern activities. Just about every household would suspend colored lanterns, with more well-to-do families requesting the most artistic and stylish lanterns to show off their wealth. This propelled Luodian colored lamps to reach a refined and elegant stage of development with great variety.
Since China’s opening up, the government of Luodian has been digging up the city’s folk art in an effort to restore the awe-inspiring works of the ancient city. In 1982, it called an annual meeting, at which the topic of colored lanterns was an important topic of discussion, thereby sparking a renewed interest in Luodian’s lamp art. During 1984’s dragon lantern carnival, a plethora of colored folk lanterns provided a feast for the eyes of city residents, and received widespread favorable criticism. These lamps also crossed seas and oceans, making an appearance at Western Europe’s International Folk Art Exhibition, further expanding the influence of Luodian’s lanterns. The lanterns appeared again in Baoshan’s 1985 lantern festival, drawing in countless tourists, and causing media outlets from nationwide trip over themselves in their scramble to report the spectacle. The newspapers published full-page images of the lanterns, and journalists enthusiastically praised this grand occasion. At the Shanghai Baoshan International Folk Art Festival, Luodian’s lotus lantern’s left yet an even deeper impression with visitors.