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灯笼 Lanterns
   2016-01-26 16:26:48    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Qin Mei

Photo taken on Sept. 11, 2015 shows lanterns in a film studio in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. Lanterns in China have a long history and they have become synonymous with Chinese culture. Even today, they are still made and enjoyed by the Chinese worldwide. They were used as a means of artistic expression, in terms of functionality, design and decoration. Chinese streets in both cities and towns are decorated with red lanterns during festivals, especially Chinese Lunar New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival and Lantern Festival. [Photo:Xinhua]

What was the name card of Chinese homes in the ancient era? It was the lantern.

Before the invention of electric lights, the lantern was the most frequently-used lighting tool for Chinese homes. A candle was placed inside a lantern that was made of paper or transparent silk or cloth. Family names were occasionally written on the lantern that transformed into the family name card displayed at the door.

During those times, the imperial name card had been a special lantern in the shapes of hexagon or octagon. Each side featured colorful paintings with a tassel hanging on it. This would be the palace lantern.

Nevertheless, the most popular type is the large red lanterns as those being hung on the Tian'anmen Square. On the holidays of the New Year and the Lantern Festival, red lanterns were common decorations. The Lantern Festival is characterized by a sea of lanterns. The most unique lantern is Zou Ma Deng(走马灯zǒu mǎ dēng ), or the galloping horse lantern.

A tiny wheel is installed in the middle of a galloping horse lantern. When the lantern revolves, the pictures on the sides of the lantern also revolve. The pictures feature ancient troops on horseback. When the lantern spins, it appears like horses are chasing each other. A high-quality galloping horse lantern reenacts a complete story.

As the pictures alter swiftly from one to another, people start to use "galloping horse lanterns" to describe the fast pace of development and changes. It is used to refer to the frequent changes of dynasties or people in power.

Today, wherever are Chinese, you can witness red lanterns.

Related Words:

[zhào míng] 照明 light
[là zhú] 蜡烛 candle
[guà] 挂 hang
[zǒu mǎ dēng ] 走马灯 galloping horse lantern/fast pace of development and changes
Eg. 这两年,公司的领导像走马灯似的换来换去。
In recent two years, the office leaders have come and gone one after another.

Red lanterns are hung on a house in Heijing ancient town in Lufeng County, southwest China's Yunnan Province, Jan. 31, 2015. Lanterns in China have a long history and they have become synonymous with Chinese culture. Even today, they are still made and enjoyed by the Chinese worldwide. They were used as a means of artistic expression, in terms of functionality, design and decoration. Chinese streets in both cities and towns are decorated with red lanterns during festivals, especially Chinese Lunar New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival and Lantern Festival. [Photo:Xinhua]

Red lanterns are hung on buildings beside a river in Zhenyuan ancient city, southwest China's Guizhou Province, July 26, 2012. Lanterns in China have a long history and they have become synonymous with Chinese culture. Even today, they are still made and enjoyed by the Chinese worldwide. They were used as a means of artistic expression, in terms of functionality, design and decoration. Chinese streets in both cities and towns are decorated with red lanterns during festivals, especially Chinese Lunar New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival and Lantern Festival. [Photo:Xinhua]

The courtyard of Family Qiao is decorated with red lanterns in Qixian County, north China's Shanxi Province, Nov. 4, 2011. Lanterns in China have a long history and they have become synonymous with Chinese culture. Even today, they are still made and enjoyed by the Chinese worldwide. They were used as a means of artistic expression, in terms of functionality, design and decoration. Chinese streets in both cities and towns are decorated with red lanterns during festivals, especially Chinese Lunar New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival and Lantern Festival. [Photo:Xinhua]

Lanterns are lit in Hongcun Village, east China's Anhui Province, April 22, 2013. Lanterns in China have a long history and they have become synonymous with Chinese culture. Even today, they are still made and enjoyed by the Chinese worldwide. They were used as a means of artistic expression, in terms of functionality, design and decoration. Chinese streets in both cities and towns are decorated with red lanterns during festivals, especially Chinese Lunar New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival and Lantern Festival. [Photo:Xinhua]

Photo taken on Sept. 11, 2015 shows lanterns in a film studio in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. Lanterns in China have a long history and they have become synonymous with Chinese culture. Even today, they are still made and enjoyed by the Chinese worldwide. They were used as a means of artistic expression, in terms of functionality, design and decoration. Chinese streets in both cities and towns are decorated with red lanterns during festivals, especially Chinese Lunar New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival and Lantern Festival. [Photo:Xinhua]

Boats are decorated with lanterns in Xitang ancient township, east China's Zhejiang Province, April 28, 2011. Lanterns in China have a long history and they have become synonymous with Chinese culture. Even today, they are still made and enjoyed by the Chinese worldwide. They were used as a means of artistic expression, in terms of functionality, design and decoration. Chinese streets in both cities and towns are decorated with red lanterns during festivals, especially Chinese Lunar New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival and Lantern Festival. [Photo:Xinhua]

Photo taken on April 16, 2010 shows lanterns hung on houses beside a river in Jiaxing City, east China's Zhejiang Province. Lanterns in China have a long history and they have become synonymous with Chinese culture. Even today, they are still made and enjoyed by the Chinese worldwide. They were used as a means of artistic expression, in terms of functionality, design and decoration. Chinese streets in both cities and towns are decorated with red lanterns during festivals, especially Chinese Lunar New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival and Lantern Festival. [Photo:Xinhua]

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