Decorative lanterns in Zen to artistic-Chinoiserie styles are enhancing the design essence of homes in the Western world.
For those wanting to bring an Asian-inspired vibe to a room or create an unexpected statement, replace a traditional chandelier with a beautifully designed lantern. Dress up your fireplace hearth with a collection of them, or place a large decorative one on the coffee table for a dramatic centrepiece.
Varying in shape and structure, ornamented with symbols of traditional Chinese culture such as dragons and bamboo, and constructed of materials as diverse as ceramic, wood or paper, lanterns have the capacity to bring an exotic element to a space, evocative of the folklore and festivals where lanterns originated.
“May we live long and share the beauty of the moon together, even if we are hundreds of miles apart,” reads a romantic Chinese poem often recited during the Lantern Festival.
Its message lives on with the moon-shaped lanterns often paraded by children in the festivities marking the end of the Chinese New Year. The Festival falls on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month, this year being the 5th of March. On this brightly-lit night, thousands of lanterns line the streets, hung from homes and storefronts, setting the stage for processions and colorful performances.
As early as the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC - AD 25) the Festival held great significance, gaining in momentum and brilliance each year. During Emperor Xuanzong’ reign (Tang Dynasty), lanterns were festooned on a grand scale — 50,000 cast vivid colours into the evening skies.
Like the artisans of days gone by, designers today are limited only by their imaginations, giving us an array of delightful lighting choices to consider. Some futuristic, others whimsically inspired by nature, or, like the lanterns lit outside the palace hundreds of years ago, nodding to the past.