HOME > Type of Lanterns


  According to Mr. Jung-luan Wu, except for illumination, Chinese lanterns also tend to be a symbol. For example, Bride Lanterns (also called Palace Lanterns) refer to wedding ceremony and other jubilant occasions; bamboosplit lanterns reading “Ji Dai Da Fu” point to funeral occasion; Umbrella-shaped Lanterns (Lanterns with Family Name and Ancestor’s Position) signify large and thriving family for the similar pronunciation of Deng and Ding in Chinese. Therefore, each household would hang Umbrella-Shaped Lanterns under the roof and within the hall. At present God-Greeting Party, there are two large lanterns in front of the Gods, which carries forward the aforesaid traditional custom.

  At the very start, my father sold lanterns as articles of daily use rather than artworks. Busy with such trade, the second-generation boss of the shop, Wu Yide, barely spoke to others. He hoped incoming customers would define what they wanted within short period so as to guarantee earlier preparation for the product. From the perspective of Chinese custom, lanterns, not limited to daily use, can be applicable to temples as basic cultural objects (lanterns can be presented to Gods) and to both weddings and funerals.

Type of Lanterns

  Lanterns covers hundreds of types, including Fuzhou Lantern, Palace Lantern, Umbrella-shaped Lantern, Wedding Lantern, Funeral Lantern, Lantern for Baby, Lantern with Family Name and Ancestor’s Position, Jiao Lantern, Shizhao Lantern, and Paper Lantern. Generally speaking, traditional lanterns popular in Taiwan mainly include Fuzhou and Quanzhou Lanterns, and their greatest discrepancy lies in production method of lantern supports. A Quanzhou Lantern is weaved into reticular framework with bamboo splits; for Fuzhou Lantern, a thick bamboo tube is cut into umbrella-shaped structure, and they can be put aside just like umbrellas when not in use, so such lanterns are also called Umbrella-shaped Lantern.

Fuzhou Lantern
Quanzhou Lantern
Scholar's last name lantern
Angular lantern
Water lantern

  My father is adept at making Quanzhou Lantern and he shapes, pastes, paints, and colors lanterns in person. The traditional lanterns made by my father most frequently include God Lantern, Sky Lantern, Lantern for Baby, Zhuangyuan Lantern, lanterns with inscribed words of family name and title, lanterns for spirit festival, lanterns for wedding and funerals, lanterns for patrols and leisure, and others. The varieties are too numerous to mention one by one. As for lanterns with colored drawing, the content covers flowers and birds, pine crane, fortune amassing, and Ruyi Lad, and lanterns with pine crane, dragon, farming and reading, and house protection are painted by my father in person. Above all, he mixes color himself, mainly including red, yellow, black, white, blue, green, and so on. As for pigments, my father usually prefers to use natural materials to maintain the brightness of colors rather than poster paint which fades away easily, which pertains to our trade secrets that cannot be disclosed to others. The contents of lanterns can be chosen according to the needs of customers, for example auspicious lanterns with dragons are frequently used in temples and wealthy and influential families; lanterns with mandarin ducks are indispensable for wedding and other joyous occasions.

Pattern on Lanterns

  Particular care should be devoted to the pattern on lanterns. For example, Buddhist Temple is the architecture to promote Buddhism, so the master drawing on corresponding lanterns should be lotus flower of top quality; for Taoist Temple to promote Taoism, Goddess of Heaven is Mazu, and the Jade Emperor and other Godare imperial, so golden dragons or green dragons with five claws instead of four claws should be painted. Nevertheless, Royal Highness and Gods at the rank of only one thousand year should be painted with dragons with only four claws, and the color of dragon body should not be golden. All the patterns should be reasonable and proper in no violation of etiquette system; otherwise the world will be at sixes and sevens.

  On the other hand, as for the pattern on the lanterns for daily use and house protection, Gods able to ward off evil spirits and disasters will be painted, such as Shi Gandang, Zhong Kui, the Eight Immortals, tiger blades, lion heads, Shanhaizhen, etc., and any pattern incompatible with or irrelevant with the subject must be forbidden. Take Funeral Lanterns as an example, parents represent Heaven and Earth, and blue is for Heaven while yellow is for Earth, which cannot be mixed. Only a family with seven generations living under the same roof is qualified for lanterns in full red not accessible to even the oldest in a family of only six generations, otherwise it turns out to be a matter of disrespect and discourtesy. As another example, standard Lanterns with Family Name and Ancestor’s Position have represented yellowish ground, scarlet words, and white cloud on the background from time immemorial, and such lanterns apply to weddings and funerals, but the words attached require sufficient care and reasonable basis.

Introduction about Lanterns

1. Quanzhou Lantern: round support is woven of fine bamboo splits.

Quanzhou Lantern Support

Quanzhou Lantern with Water Dragon
Quanzhou Lantern with Dragon King

2. Fuzhou Orange-shaped Lantern: an orange-shaped support is woven of bamboo pieces and it is like a tankan.

Orange-shaped Lantern with Dragon King

3. Fuzhou Oval Lantern: an egg-shaped support is woven of bamboo pieces and it is like an eggshell.

Fuzhou Lantern Support
Fuzhou Oval Lantern
Fuzhou Oval Lantern

4. Dragon-Phoenix Lantern

  Normally, two pairs of Dragon-Phoenix Lanterns (one for the bride and the other for the groom) are used in wedding ceremony in combination with God Lanterns prepared by the groom. The surname of groom should be indicated on Bride Lanterns from the bride. In male-dominated agricultural era, the Chinese pronunciation of “Deng” and “Ding” is similar, so the process that the Bride presents a lantern to the groom is known as “Give Deng”, equal to “Add Ding” in implication. Namely, the bride is expected to “give birth to a baby” for the groom after marriage. Due to the dragon, phoenix, and Fugui Flower on the lantern, Bride Lantern is also called as “Dragon-Phoenix Lantern” and “Palace Lantern”. Additionally, for the surname of the groom on the lantern, Bride Lantern is referred to as “Lantern with Family Name and Ancestor’s Position”.

  On the Dragon-Phoenix Lanterns from the groom, called as “Groom Lanterns”, exist canna flower, lotus, peony, and osmanthus, so such lanterns refer to “Lian Zhao Gui Zi” in Chinese, namely to give birth to honorable sons in succession. The process that the groom delivers the lanterns is called as Bearing Babies (“Chu Ding” in Chinese), signifying to carry on the family line. Afterwards, the brother, nephew or niece of the bride will carry the lanterns to the groom, which is called as “Jin Deng” in Chinese, signifying the wish for promising children, good luck, and money drawing. Dragon-Phoenix Lanterns symbolize rosiness and continuity of a clan.

5. Ma Lanterns (for funeral arrangements)

  Xiao Lanterns refer to lanterns made of bamboo splits to bid farewell, also called as “Bai Lanterns”, “Da Lanterns”, “Ma Lanterns”, or “Gaozhao Lanterns”. Paternal (maternal) ancestors, ancestral home (household name), surnames, and specific offspring are indicated on such lanterns so as to make others identify the current generations of the deceased’s. On the day of funeral procession, large lanterns hang at funeral ceremony and funeral procession. In the latter case, lanterns leading the way will be burned upon the arrival at the cemetery. In addition, one small lantern, called as “Lantern for Male Offspring”, will hang over the grave of the deceased, signifying more male offspring are expected, for labors, namely more men, are essential in agricultural society. Thereupon, the small lantern also refers to “Chu Deng (Ding)” in Chinese.

Lanterns with Family Name

Lanterns with Household Name

Ma Lantern

(The pictures are provided by Mr. Jung-jen Wu.)


6. Gods Lanterns

In 2006, Fengtian Temple located in Xingang, Chiayi commenced the production of Mazu Lanterns.

Gods Lanterns

Gods Lanterns

Fengtian Temple located in Xingang

In 2006, Fengtian Temple located in Xingang, Chiayi commenced the production of Mazu Lanterns.

Chifa Goddess Lanterns

On June 11, 2011, Team of Antique and Innovative Crafts for Lukang Cultural Festival visited the maestro at Lukang Longshan Temple.

Lanterns with Guandi Sage-King for Peace

7. Fun in Childhood – Runbing Lanterns

  There are many varieties of lanterns and they are ever-changing. Some are created on the basis of personal wisdom and imagination. For us, one of the most common classic works is “Runbing Lanterns” which have been folded many times before the final achievement. On previous Lantern Festivals, children carried such lanterns most often.


Colored Lanterns for Lantern Festival

Lotus Lanterns

Lanterns with Colored Folk Customs and Figures

Taiwan Lanterns

Shop Sign –Lanterns for Kinship Organization

(The aforesaid photos and materials are provided by Mr. Jung-luan Wu and Mr. Jung-jen Wu in written and oral form.)