Tuntou Village - The home of China's red lanterns


(worldkings.org) As the Chinese Lunar New Year draws near, Tuntou village in the Gaocheng district of Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, is busy producing lanterns to help decorate houses.

Carefully steadying the gleaming red lantern between her knees, a worker applied the Chinese character for "wealth" in gold glitter - one of the millions that will illuminate the forthcoming Chinese New Year.



A high wooden arch at the entrance to the snowy village of Tuntou, in Hebei province southwest of Beijing, proclaims it the "Lantern Capital" of the People's Republic.

For the past two months, the town has been churning out the pumpkin-shaped lamps in preparation for the biggest holiday of the year in the world's most populous country.



Known as the Spring Festival in China, the holiday, which falls on Feb 8 this year, compares in importance to Christmas in the West, and marks a time when far-flung family members return home for merriment and meals - according to tradition, they must be back by midnight on the eve of the new year.

Tuntou village has specialised in artisanal lantern-making for nearly 40 years.

It is not the site of enormous factories, instead the industry is driven by a number of private workshops in which families concentrate on the production of a single lantern element - the spindly metal frames, the exterior "skin" of fabric or silk or the decorative inscriptions.



At the back of one assembly unit, high piles of nearly completed lanterns awaited processing, while workers wielded wooden canes to lift others high off the ground to dangle delicately from the ceiling.

The colour red symbolises luck and happiness in Chinese culture, and the lanterns are omnipresent throughout towns and countryside, trotted out at most important occasions: marriages, business openings and most of all Chinese New Year, which generally falls in late January or early to mid-February.



"Outside of the peak holiday season, we also receive special requests: giant models, for example, or orders to decorate the Forbidden City in Beijing," explained Mr Bai.

"Tens of millions of lanterns are produced each year and all or almost all of them are sold. A portion is exported to South-east Asia, the US or Japan. It has become an economic pillar for the village," he added.

Traditionally, positive Chinese characters such as "happiness", "peace" and "family" are painted on their sides.

Known as gongdeng, or palace lanterns, those made in the village were listed as a provincial intangible cultural heritage in 2006. The village can produce about 100 million pairs of lanterns annually and sells them at home and abroad.

According to asianews.network; tnp.straitstimes.com. Source of photos: internet 

Bee (Collect) - WORLDKINGS (Source of photos: Internet)

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