In Depth of Paper Lanterns

Posted by: Tan Wanyi

Paper lanterns, a common sight in Singapore especially during the Mid- Autumn Festival are usually imported. However, there are a few traditional Chinese Paper lantern makers in Singapore who are trying to keep the trade alive and one of them is Mr Yeo Hung Teo. Paper Lanterns originated from Eastern Han Dynasty (25AD-220AD) in ancient China and were used as lamps. Nowadays, in the context of Singapore, they are mainly hung outside the premises of temples, businesses or outside the homes of an individual as it is believed to be a symbol of status and identity. The colours of the characters on the lantern will demonstrate its’ purpose. For instance, the colour Red signifies good luck and fortune and is commonly requested by organisations such as Temples.

Decorated chinese lantern hung outside a temple

Decorated chinese lantern hung outside a temple          Photo credit:

While the colour Black is usually requested by Martial Art organisations as they signify strength, the colour Blue is only used for funeral purposes.

Paper lanterns hung at a funeral.

Paper lantern hung at a funeral                             Photo credit:

Nowadays, there are many different types of lanterns and some have modernized in terms of the materials used and the shape that they come in. Materials such as bamboo have been replaced by wires to make the skeleton of the lantern. Also, the use of music has also been included in the lantern with colourful light bulbs in them.

Sanrio- themed lanterns

Sanrio- themed lanterns                                                                                                                                                       Photo credit:








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