The ancient town of Hoi An would lose its attractiveness and mystery if it didn’t have decorative multi-coloured lanterns.
While trading with Vietnam during the 16th-17th centuries, many merchants from China and Japan contributed to the distinguished culture of Hoi An commercial harbour.
The lantern is the result of exchanges among Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese cultures famous for their various and specific identities. Originating from a popular appliance from life, the lantern has been lifted to an art of decoration. It now has a firm position in Hoi An inhabitants’ minds and lives. With skillful hands and bountiful imaginations, the lantern is made for different purposes. It is not only for living, but also an artistic work with pictures on silk. Having lost its initial shape, Hoi An lanterns nowadays can be seen in all different shapes and sizes.
Though made of diversified materials, lanterns with bamboo frames and silk covers are the most typical. You can choose lanterns with wooden frames, sometimes made from very precious wood, and on each side of the lantern is a painting depicting a legend. Once lighted, lanterns will illuminate with marvelous, mysterious and ethereal light as if the past of hundreds of years prior has returned to the present day.
Besides ancient houses of over 100 years old, lanterns are the most special things in Hoi An. Lanterns are seen everywhere in the ancient town, not only in lantern shops. At night, when all shops are closed, lanterns are lighted up. Tourists can see Hoi An people making lanterns on the pavement.
For many years, traditional coloured lanterns have enchanted visitors of Hoi An, particularly foreign visitors. Every year, tens of thousands of Hoi An lanterns are exported or bought by foreign visitors as souvenirs and gifts. As a cultural and tourist product, the lanterns have helped raise the incomes of Hoi An’s residents.
Lanterns are not only a special handicraft item of Hoi An but also a unique characteristic of this ancient town, which can’t be found anywhere else in Vietnam.