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Colored lanterns light up Asian Games festivities

By Ma Zhenhuan in Hangzhou| chinadaily.com.cn| Updated: May 12, 2023 L M S

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Xiashi colored lanterns emblazoned with mascots of the Asian Games. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Wang Liqin from Haining, Zhejiang province, has perfected the techniques for making Xiashi colored lanterns. Through the craft, she expressed best wishes for the upcoming Asian Games.

"I want to light up lanterns for the Games," she said. "They are not only a realization of my own dreams but also a way to keep traditional lantern-making techniques alive."

The making of Xiashi colored lanterns requires meticulous attention to detail. It involves eight skills and stitch patterns. They are mainly made of rice paper, sawali and lead wire, and they incorporate the eight traditional skills of drawing, bending, carving, fastening, embroidering, mounting, pasting and tying into an organic whole.

"By mid-June, all the work will be completed. It involves using Asian Games elements — mascots, venues, competitive events and things related to Zhejiang, such as villages and Liangzhu culture," Wang said.

She also incorporates calligraphy and painting into the lanterns for the Games, making them more lifelike and exquisite.

"I have written Chinese characters for 'Healthy sports', 'Passionate Asian Games' and 'Let your dreams fly' on the backs of the lanterns to convey positive energy," she added.

Xiashi colored lanterns are characterized by their high technical and aesthetic value.

The making of the lanterns is an ancient folk art in Haining that can be traced back 1,200 years. It was popular early in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Later, in the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), Xiashi colored lanterns were presented as tributes to the court.

During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), people took various lanterns in hand or carried them on their shoulders and went to the streets, singing and dancing to the deafening sound of gongs and drums. The contingents were often several kilometers long. Such grand lantern festivals gradually became a folk custom in Haining.

The lanterns have various themes. They can be divided into five categories — desk lanterns, portable lanterns, wall lanterns, hanging lanterns and gift lanterns.

In 2006, Xiashi colored lanterns and Haining shadow puppetry were added to the national intangible cultural heritage list.