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Admiring festive lanterns on stamps

Updated: 2010-02-26 15:18
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February 28th (January 15th in the lunar calendar) is the Lantern Festival, one of the great Chinese traditional festivals. The Chinese people have practiced the custom of lighting festival lanterns to celebrate Lantern Festival for thousands of years. Now, this colorful lantern is also a selected subject of stamps. So far, the stamps with the theme of festival lanterns have been issued in the Chinese Mainland, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan.

On February 19th, 1981, the original Chinese Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications issued a particular collection of stamps: T60 "Palace Lantern" (six in a set).

The palace lantern is a kind of flower-lamp used in the royal palaces, famous for its elegant and courtly manners. It is one of the most distinctive handicrafts of Chinese colored lanterns. Because it was used in the royal palaces for a long time, it has subtle and complicated decorations, which show the wealth and sumptuousness of the royal family. With generous shape-designing and exquisite workmanship, the collection of "Palace Lantern" has the pattern of Flower-basket Lanterns, Dragon-ball Lanterns, Dragon-and-Phoenix Lanterns, Goldmine Lanterns, Herbaceous-flower Lanterns, and Peony Lanterns.

Admiring festive lanterns on stamps

On February 28th 1985, the Chinese Post Office issued a particular collection of stamps titled T104: "Palace Lantern" (four in a set). The patterns of these stamps are the pictures of traditional lanterns made by contemporary folk art masters, such as "Nine Auspicious Lotuses" (Hangzhou of Zhejiang province), "Propitious Dragon and Phoenix" (Foshan of Guangdong province), "Hundreds of Blooming Flowers" (Guangzhou of Guangdong province), "Treasures Fill the Home" (Shanghai).

The lanterns on the stamps follow the traditional pattern, but at the same time show some element of creativity. They are skillfully constructed, and consummate in craftsmanship. "Treasures Fill the Home" is a Goldfish Lantern made by late He Keming, who is called "the Lantern King of Jiangnan." It is patterned with goldfish, lotuses, lotus leaves, and lotus roots, lively and vivid, symbolizing a good harvest.

Admiring festive lanterns on stampsAdmiring festive lanterns on stamps

The China Post Office, Hong Kong Post, and Macao Post joined together to issue stamps in 2006 with the theme of "Folk Colored lanterns," in order to show the Chinese traditional culture of the lantern-show.

They issued a set of 2006-3T stamps in the Chinese Mainland (five in a set). Five lanterns of different places were chosen as the stamp patterns: "Fish Lantern" (Shangluo of Shanxi province), "Chinese Cabbage Lantern" (Beijing), and "Lotus Lantern" (Nanjing of Jiangsu province), "Dragon-and-Phoenix Lantern" (Xianju of Zhejiang province), "Butterfly Lantern" (Foshan of Guangdong province).

There were 3 stamps and a souvenir sheet in the collection issued in Hong Kong, which display the local "Lotus Fairy", "Narcissus", "Peacock" and "Boys’ Dragon-dancing" Lanterns. There are also lantern riddles printed on souvenir sheets to add interest.

Four stamps and a souvenir sheet in the collection were issued in Macao. The patterns on these stamps are more abstract. All of them are lanterns made in the Foshan area, some of them with a golden dragon or some red Chinese knots hanging on the side.

Admiring festive lanterns on stamps

The tradition of making and admiring festive lanterns is also kept in Hong Kong and Macao. Admiring festive lanterns is a custom not only restricted to Lantern Festival but also welcomed in another similar traditional festival, Mid-Autumn Day.

The Post and Telecommunications Office of Portuguese Authorities in Macao issued "Mid-Autumn Day" stamps on October 10th 1982 (four in a set). The main pattern of every stamp is the Chinese word "qiu" (autumn) and a Chinese traditional colored lantern. The colored lanterns on the four stamps are "The Goddess Chang’s Flying to the Moon Lantern," "Gourd Lantern," "Eight-Angles Lantern,"and "Lion Lantern."

The General Post Office of British Authorities in Hong Kong also issued a set of stamps entitled "Colored Lanterns of Hong Kong" in 1984 to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival (four in a set). The chosen colored lanterns are the unique lanterns of Lingnan: "Phoenix Lantern," "Kylin Lantern," "Butterfly Lantern," and "Fish Lantern." They are depicted in a black background and really show the beautiful scene of the colored lanterns at night.

 Admiring festive lanterns on stamps

 Commemorative stamps "Celebrate the First Plenary Session of CPPCC"

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