Lantern art, unique symbol of Shicheng County
BEIJING – Shicheng, a County in east China’s Jiangxi Province, is known as the “hometown of Chinese lantern art”. The tradition of lantern art has been kept for more than 1,000 years and the art attracts people all around the world now.
Shicheng lantern art is a folk art integrating lamps, music, dance, opera, painting, paper cutting, bamboo and wood craft. It has a wide variety and a long history. The lamps are unique and exquisite, its dancing is soft and modest, its music is beautiful and pleasing, and its team structure is novel and creative.
In 2008, Shicheng lantern was listed as a national intangible cultural heritage. The lantern art in Shicheng has become popular among the rural people since the Southern Tang Dynasty (937-976). Local people believed that its origin is related to local customs. Shicheng people call men “Ding”, which is homonymous with “lantern” in dialect, implying “having a flourishing population in family” and “having both wealth and kids”. The bright and gorgeous lights of lantern are the symbol of prosperity.
The Hakka ancestors in Shicheng endowed the traditional lantern art with rich connotation and forms for entertainment, praise, prayer and sacrifice.
The Spring Festival is the country’s grandest traditional festival. People in Shicheng always celebrated this grand festival with the their finest lantern activities.
At the Chinese Lunar New Year’s Eve, local people went to the ancestral hall to welcome the lanterns, receive blessings, get together and wait for the Lunar New Year. On the first day of the lunar new year, people beat gongs and drum, take lanterns and pray for blessings. This is the golden season for the lantern activities in Shicheng.
On different festivals and occasions, Shicheng people always have different lanterns to express their blessings and joy. Among the lights and the sound of gongs and drums, the lanterns have become the unique symbol of Shicheng.