Also known as "Fancy Lantern", festoon lighting is a sort of traditional folk handicraft in China. They are usually hung up to enhance happy atmospheres during traditional festivals as well as wedding ceremonies and old people's birthday parties.
According to legends, Chinese festoon lighting originated in the Han Dynasty and flourished in the Tang and Song Dynasty. It has a history of over 2000 years so far. Festoon lighting is a perfect combination of various craftworks, with bamboo, timber, vine, straw, horn, metal, damask silk and thin silk as the raw materials. Such raw materials are produced in different regions. Fabricating procedures for festoon lighting include festooning, pasting, plaiting, broidering, and carving. It is also decorated with paper-cut, painting, calligraphy and poems. Having been carried forward and developed by generations of folk handicraftsmen, festoon lighting has been greatly expanded in its variety and become an elegant and peculiar folk art in China.
Festoon lighting is usually classified into droplight, pedestal lamp, wall lamp and lantern. Also, it is divided into character, landscape, birds, flowers, dragon, phoenix, fish, insect and other living things in line with shapes. There is also another type—shadow-picture lantern which is exclusively designed for appreciation. The most famous types of festoon lighting made in ancient China are the palace lantern and the gauze lantern.
Festoon lightings made in different areas are endowed with distinct regional features and peculiar artistic styles. For instance, dragon lanterns in Shanghai are made of cloth; shadow-picture lanterns in Guangdong are characterized by exquisite structures; bead lanterns in Xiangjiang and Wenzhou are made of tens of thousands of beads, featuring exquisiteness and magnificence; palace lanterns in Beijing are classical and elegant; lanterns in Baxian County in Hebei Province are characterized by humorous themes and clear messages. They include lanterns of mice-climbing-grape, scorpion-carrying-archway, kylin, Zhubajie (pig), duck, goldfish, and mandarin duck.
Presently, lantern festivals are held in some Chinese cities, such as the “Qinhuai Lantern Festival” in Nanjing and “Xiushan Festival Lantern” in Chongqing. They have been listed in Chinese national intangible cultural heritages, which embodies the great enchantment of the Chinese traditional art —festoon lighting.