The Colorful Lanterns of Hoi An

The traditional lantern craft in Hoi An has been around for over 400 years

By Quang Binh Tourism Department

Quang Nam Province Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism

The lantern, brought by Chinese and Japanese merchants when they came to Hoi An to trade and settle in the late 14th century, is one of Hoi An’s most famous symbols.The traditional lantern crafting in Hoi An has been lasting for over 400 years until today.

A lantern workshop in Hoi An by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

Finish the lantern frame by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

Traditional lantern crafting in Hoi An

In Hoi An, there are over 32 lantern production workshops. Hoi An lanterns are exported to many countries in Europe, Asia and America. The traditional lantern is Hoi An’s unique cultural product - also a cultural heritage of the world.

The process of making lanterns is divided into 2 main stages: making bamboo frames and fabrics covering.

Drilling holes on the bamboo strips by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

The bamboo must first be soaked with salt water for 10 days to avoid termites, then dried, split and sharpened into thin strips depending on the size of each lantern.

Connecting the strips by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

Making the center frame of Hoi An lantern by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

Strips are attached to 2 wooden rings at two ends and then tied with parachute cords. In the end, the craftsman will adjust the strips by hand to make a proportional lantern frame.

Attach the wooden finial by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

Completed lantern frames by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

Lantern covering materials are usually satin or colorful silk, which are tough enough to stretch without being torn.

Lantern fabrics by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

Firstly, the fabric is cut into pieces, depending on the size of the lamp, then applied on the lantern frame with glue.

Attach the fabrics cover on to the frame 2 by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

Stretching fabric requires the craftsman to be extremely skillful to strain corners in curved sections.

Attach the fabrics cover on to the frame by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

After covering the lantern with fabrics, the craftsman will use scissors to cut out the excess parts and then attach the grip to the lantern.

Attach the belt by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

The grip is made of artificial silk thread attached to a wooden marbles.

Making decorative tassels by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

It takes 4 days from preparing the bamboo strip to the completion of 2 lanterns, plus 3 additional painting and decoration steps.

A lantern workshop in Hoi An by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

Releasing flower lantern on Hoai River 2 by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

Flower lantern 

On the 15th of every lunar month, the Full Moon Festival is held in Hoi An Ancient Town. No traffic is allowed on the roads along Hoai River in the ancient town on those nights. The town is returned to its quiet and peaceful atmosphere. Electric lights give way to lanterns to be lit from 6pm. 

Local people burn incense on the ancestor altar praying for good luck, and visitors can drop flower lantern on the river to pray for peace, while immersing themselves in the miracle surrounding on Hoai River and enjoying traditional art activities.

Selling flower lanterns in Hoi An by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

Visiting Hoi An on Full Moon Festival, visitors will find themselves lost in the town of centuries ago. The flower lantern - hoa dang, consists of a small flower shape paper shade with a small candle standing in the middle, which is lit to honor the spiritual and cultural values of Vietnamese people. Each flower lantern dropped on the river will send out a person’s prayer.

Selling flower lanterns in Hoi An 2 by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

On the Hoai River flowing through Hoi An at night, thousands of flower lanterns shimmer along the river and collectively become a memorable symbol of the little ancient town.

Releasing flower lantern on Hoai River by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department

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