Chinese people have appreciated the beauty of lanterns for years. Like a beacon that lights up the way home, it is customary to admire the charm of lanterns during Lantern Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival, two festivals that celebrate reunion.
Lantern shows are held throughout the country on such occasions. Yuyuan Lantern Show in Shanghai and Qinhuai Lantern Show in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu province, are two notable shows. In Northeast China, shows are held on snow and ice, where crystallized sculptures create a fairytale of light and color.
Mentioning Chinese lanterns would not be complete without alluding to a city in Southwest China's Sichuan province, Zigong, often hailed as the City of Lanterns.
The custom of enjoying lanterns on festivals began in Zigong as early as the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Most Chinese lanterns are made with wire structures and fabric coverings. To add to its beauty, Zigong artisans also use a variety of materials, such as silk, paper, bamboo, straw, cocoon and even porcelain.
Lantern production is now a driving force for the local economy, as most of large-scale lanterns used in festive shows are produced in Zigong. The annual Zigong Lantern Show is also a major attractor for the city's tourism. Visitors flock to Zigong to enjoy lanterns, as well as a variety of other recreational activities.
The dexterous hands of Zigong craftsmen have also taken this national intangible heritage abroad, staging spectacles of color and delight at lantern shows in more than 70 countries and regions worldwide. Zigong lanterns are now a name card for their hometown, as well as their motherland.
For the Chinese, lanterns have not only lit up the night, but also illuminated hearts that long for home.
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