HOI AN CITY OF LATERNS
HOI AN CITY OF LATERNS. Hoi An is a city in Viet Nam about 30km to the south of Danang. The Old Town of Hoi An is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was a typical trading port in the Southeast Asia from the 15th to the 19th century. Indeed, thanks to its favorable location, Chinese and Japanese’s settlement, Hoi An became a busy trading port. Moreover, the handicraft villages such as lanterns, carpentry, pottery, vegetables… also created the busy trading port of Hoi An.
In particular, Hoi An is considered as the cradle of pure Vietnamese lanterns. Anyone who has ever been to Hoi An cannot forget its nostalgic beauty. Walking through the old quarter, you will immerse yourself in typical buildings of the Old Town of Hoi An of the 18th and 19th centuries with wooden houses, mossy walls and street vendors. Throughout the streets, you can see beautiful lanterns in different shapes in every restaurants, shops, hotels… Definitely, Hoi An cannot be completely beautiful without lanterns. The harmony of lanterns’ colors, the authenticity and the tranquility of the city make us fall in love with Hoi An.
Furthermore, contemplating lanterns in Hoi An is really interesting. Indeed, at every moment, they all have their own beauty. We can see all delicacy, creativity and talent of artisans by looking at these lanterns in the morning with all their details. When night comes, lanterns are bright and full of magic colors. It is lanterns that bring to Hoi An the poetic nocturnal beauty.
Actually, lanterns appeared in the late 16th century when the first Chinese came to settle. They hung the lamp to deal with the feeling of nostalgia. According to the local population, the craftsman Huynh Van Ba was the first one who studied, created and integrated the cultural characteristics of Vietnam into traditional lanterns. The process of making a lantern is a meticulous work that requires many skills of artisans. The main materials used are bamboo and silk which are familiar images in Vietnamese people’s life.
At first, the upper class in society was the only one who could have big lanterns decorated with Chinese characters or paintings hanging at home. Gradually, lanterns became popular for the middle class in the form of home decor by retaining its beauty, luxury and inherent charm.
Nowadays, lanterns come in various shapes, sizes as well as methods of construction. They can be spherical lanterns, pumpkin-shaped lanterns or rotating lanterns. Each shape and color of the lantern has a different meaning. For example, the rounds symbolize harmony and balance. This is a typical shape of lantern in Hoi An. According to folklore, a lantern hanging in the house is the symbol bringing more warmth, peace and luck to the home. If you have the chance to visit Viet Nam, you should not miss Hoi An and the contemplation of lanterns.