Chinese Lanterns

Chinese Lanterns is another phrase that is sometimes used to refer to Wish Lanterns.

Chinese lantern is originally an American term to describe a Wish Lantern, used in light of the fact that The Kongming Lantern was the first hot air balloon, named after the great sage and military strategist of the Three Kingdoms Era of Chinese history Zhuge Liang.

Chinese lanterns are reported to date as far back as the 3rd Century B.C. however, making it likely that the invention of flying lantern is falsely attributed to Zhuge Liang however, which is in line with the traditional Chinese historical practice of attributing great discoveries to important miltary and historical figures, rather than their actual inventors. It is possible that the accrediting of the discovery to Kong Ming has something to do with resemblence that Wish Lanterns bear to the hat he is often seen to wear in paintings.

Lanterns have always been an important and widely used part of Chinese culture, as one of the most popular folk crafts for Chinese people. Whilst China is most famous for its traditions of using hanging or floating lanterns, both as illumination for practical purposes, and for celebrations and festivals, flying lanterns are also used in the celebration of important events, most notably Chinese New Year.

For more information on the history of Wish Lanterns, see our Thai Lantern page