(East-West Question) Chen Jiaming: How do oriental lanterns light up the world?

  China News Agency, Zigong, Sichuan, February 14th: Chen Jiaming: How do oriental lanterns light up the world?

  China News Agency reporter He Shaoqing

  The bright lights reflect the night, and there is a total of lights in the end of the world.

In the Spring Festival of the Year of the Tiger, colorful lanterns integrating shape, color, sound, light and movement shine brightly in the night sky in Zigong, Sichuan, the "Millennium Salt Capital".

At the same time, in the French city of Blagnac, thousands of miles away, 40 sets of Zigong lanterns showing the representative architecture, humanities, folklore and technology of China and France lighted up the Rituret Park.

In January 2022, the lanterns of the 28th Zigong International Dinosaur Lantern Festival are beautiful.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Wang Lei

  Zigong lanterns, which began in the Tang and Song Dynasties and flourished in the Ming and Qing dynasties, are known as "the first lantern in the world".

Since its first overseas trip in 1990, Zigong Lantern Festival has been exhibited in 80 countries and regions around the world, accounting for 85% of the market share in China and 92% overseas.

  Why are Chinese local folk lanterns popular among Chinese and Western tourists?

How do oriental lanterns light up the world?

Chen Jiaming, Executive Dean of China's first Lantern Academy, recently accepted an exclusive interview with China News Agency's "East and West Questions" to give an in-depth interpretation of this.

The excerpts from the interview are as follows:

China News Service reporter: When did the custom of opening lanterns on the Chinese Lantern Festival originate, and what changes have you experienced?

In the history of Chinese lanterns, what are the exchanges between Eastern and Western cultures?

Chen Jiaming:

"A sheng song is like the sea in spring, and the lights of a thousand doors are like day in the night".

Lanterns are the most festive and auspicious symbols of the Chinese Spring Festival, especially the Lantern Festival on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, which not only derives colorful folk customs such as sending lanterns, guessing lantern riddles, dancing dragon lanterns, and grabbing lanterns. , but also developed into a unique Chinese lantern art.

In January 2022, the 28th Zigong International Dinosaur Lantern Festival will attract visitors with surnames printed on it.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Wang Lei

  As early as the Western Han Dynasty more than 2,000 years ago, China had the custom of putting on lanterns on the Shangyuan Festival. No matter the luxury houses or the poor alleys, lanterns were hung high to compete with the moon to celebrate the arrival of the first full moon in the year.

During the Sui and Tang Dynasties, the Lantern Festival became a national cultural activity that both the refined and the popular enjoyed. Emperor Yang of the Sui Dynasty even invited international friends to watch the lanterns.

"Sui Shu·Music Zhi" records, "Every year on the first lunar month, all countries come to the dynasty, stay until the 15th, and in Jianguomen outside Duanmen, it stretches for eight miles and is listed as a theater." The Lantern Festival in the Song Dynasty was even more grand. It left a vivid description of Lu You's "advocating the continuous boiling of five doors, and the ten thousand torches moving in the evening".

  During the period of the Republic of China, Beijing Wenshengzhai Lantern Painting Fan Village once took Beijing palace lanterns to participate in the Panama International Exposition and won the gold medal, once again letting the world know the charm of the ancient oriental lanterns.

In 1990, Zigong Lantern Festival went to Singapore and opened the prelude to overseas exhibitions.

For more than 30 years, Zigong Lantern Festival has been exhibited in 80 countries and regions including the United States, Britain, France, Australia, Canada, Hungary, Belgium, and Mexico.

In recent years, despite the impact of the new crown pneumonia epidemic, Zigong lanterns are still facing difficulties. In 2021 alone, they will be lit in many countries such as the United States, Singapore, France, and the United Kingdom.

The cultural section of "Animal Habitat through Time and Space" at the Chinese Lantern Show in Blagnac, France.

Photo courtesy of School of Lanterns, Sichuan University of Light Chemical Industry

China News Agency reporter: Why is the Zigong Lantern Festival, which originated in the Tang and Song Dynasties, called "the first lantern in the world"?

Over the past half century, how has Zigong lanterns changed in terms of expression, themes, materials, craftsmanship, and technology?

Chen Jiaming:

With the prosperity of the Lantern Festival, unique and ingenious lantern art has gradually formed all over China.

According to the statistics of Chang Sixin, director of the Lantern Special Committee of the Chinese Folk Artists Association, there were more than 200 styles of colored lanterns in China at most, and more than 50 styles have been retained so far.

These include Beijing palace lanterns that make good use of red sandalwood and mahogany, Suzhou lanterns with the charm of Jiangnan water towns, Guangdong Xinhui dragon lanterns, Sichuan Zigong lanterns, Zhejiang Haining kipstone lanterns, Fuzhou flower basket lanterns, and iron-painted palace lanterns in Wuhu, Anhui.

  The reason why Zigong Lantern is known as "the first lantern in the world" can be traced back to the Zigong Lantern Festival held in Singapore in 1990.

Focusing on the oriental culture, Zigong lantern craftsmen designed the "lions playing ball", "dragon and phoenix Chengxiang" porcelain lanterns with strong folk customs and local characteristics, "peacock opening screen", "Oriental elegant rhyme" shadow play lanterns for this lantern festival. "Three Friends of the Cold Season" blow molding lamp, "Zigong Dinosaur" lamp, "Dragon Touring Phoenix Dance" lamp, etc.

After the first group of "Dragon Playing Pearls" porcelain lanterns in the light-up ceremony, the then President of Singapore, Mr. Huang Hui, the Chairman of the Singapore International Trade Bureau presented a pennant of "No. 1 Lantern in the World" to the Zigong Lantern Exhibition Group. .

Since then, this reputation has spread all over the country with the Zigong Lantern Festival going to sea.

  Zigong is rich in well salt and is known as the "Millennium Salt Capital".

In the long history, the style of fighting lanterns by salt merchants has not only improved the craftsmanship of Zigong lanterns, but also made Zigong lanterns larger than other lanterns in China, making them more immersive for tourists from the East and the West.

In 2000, I designed and produced the "Chinese Millennium Lantern King". The lantern is 21 meters in diameter, symbolizing the 21st century, and 16.6 meters high, symbolizing a smooth journey. 56 15-meter long dragons represent 56 ethnic groups.

Today, the large-scale Zigong lantern group has reached thousands of square meters.

  With the development of the times, the theme of Zigong lanterns is closer to life in addition to praying for good luck, myths and legends, historical allusions, fairy tales, and traditional dramas.

At the beginning of 2020, due to the new crown pneumonia epidemic, the 26th Zigong International Dinosaur Lantern Festival was suspended for 3 months.

During this period, Zigong lamp craftsmen presented the anti-epidemic deeds of the Chinese people in 15 groups of lamps, and created the images of medical staff, policemen, community workers, takeaway brothers and other characters to pay tribute to the retrograde heroes.

"Anti-epidemic theme lantern group" produced at the Zigong Lantern Festival in 2020.

Photo courtesy of School of Lanterns, Sichuan University of Light Chemical Industry

  Colored lanterns have gradually moved out of the Lantern Festival and entered the fields of cultural tourism and nighttime economy. At present, they have developed into "colored lantern art" including traditional lanterns and modern light and shadow.

The latest 28th Zigong International Dinosaur Lantern Festival not only continued the past two VR panoramic landscape lights, but also integrated digital technologies such as naked-eye 3D visual effects and AR virtual reality enhancement for the first time.

The Lantern Festival mascot "Deng Dengmei" generated by real-life motion capture technology will communicate with tourists when they pick up their mobile phones to guide orderly passage.

China News Service reporter: How to light up the world under the epidemic of oriental lanterns and be a good "cultural messenger" of people-to-people bonds?

Chen Jiaming:

One of the reasons why Zigong lanterns, a very local folk cultural activity in China, is welcomed by tourists from both the East and the West is the popular nature of the lanterns.

It is an art that is close to the people. Most of the content comes from the folk and life. It is easily loved by the people in different countries.

The Zigong Lantern Festival has become one of the celebrations during festivals in many overseas countries, not just the Chinese New Year.

  The lanterns tell the story of cultural exchange between the East and the West in the language of images.

Even if the language is not fluent, people can easily read it.

For example, Zigong lanterns used more than 250,000 pieces of porcelain and more than 300,000 pieces of glass to reproduce the grand occasion of the "Silk Road", and built 18 countries such as the Big Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi'an, the Taj Mahal in India, the Colosseum in ancient Rome, and the pyramids in Egypt. landmark building.

In the world of light and shadow, Zigong lanterns unfold a magnificent picture of the "Silk Road" for tourists from east and west.

  Therefore, if the oriental lanterns want to go abroad, they must first understand the culture of other countries and clarify the creative direction in order to cook a "cultural feast" suitable for the needs of overseas markets.

For example, in Longlit Manor, Zigong, the lanterns in Zigong designed the "Peter Rabbit" lantern. Without any words and languages, British audiences can see at a glance that it is a fairy tale image drawn by British fairy tale writer Beatrix Potter.

During the Lantern Festival in Blagnac, France, Zigong lanterns built the French aircraft "Fengshen", which is 30 meters long and 6 meters high, and reproduced the pride of France with tens of thousands of light bulbs.

In 2017, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the park's safari park, Longleat Manor in the UK launched a special Zigong lantern show featuring the fairy tale animals of Beatrix Potter, the famous British fairy tale author and author of "Peter Rabbit".

Photo courtesy of School of Lanterns, Sichuan University of Light Chemical Industry

The French "Fengshen" aircraft in the form of lanterns at the Lantern Festival in Blagnac, France.

Photo courtesy of School of Lanterns, Sichuan University of Light Chemical Industry

  At the moment of the "global pandemic" of the new crown pneumonia, the impact of the epidemic on the world and the reflection of human beings in the face of the epidemic can strongly arouse the emotional resonance of the people of the East and the West.

In 2022, the Lantern Academy will lead the design of epidemic-themed lanterns integrating modern light and shadow art. This group of lanterns is expected to cost nearly 10,000 lamps and will be exhibited at home and abroad.

  At present, the biggest challenge of "going to sea" for lanterns is the inconvenience caused by the epidemic to personnel exchanges and logistics.

The Spring Festival of 2020 coincides with the early stage of the outbreak, and it took half a year for the lantern craftsman who was in charge of the exhibition task of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Chile to "perceive China, the world's lanterns" to return home safely.

At present, many Zigong lighting companies have innovated the exhibition layout mode, and the Chinese lamp craftsmen are remotely charged and foreign personnel organize the exhibition to reduce the number of overseas operators.

  The challenges brought by the epidemic also include rising logistics and transportation costs and container shortages.

At present, many Zigong lantern companies have realized the "slim down" of colored lanterns through modular design, and explored standardized production, transportation, exhibition organization, and exhibition dismantling to reduce transportation space.

In addition, many lighting companies are currently changing the traditional single-exhibition model and extending the value chain of exhibits through rotating exhibitions and touring exhibitions.

  In a word, in the "post-epidemic era", only through its own reform and improvement can Oriental lanterns continue to light up the world and be a good "cultural messenger" of people-to-people bonds.


Interviewee Profile:

  Chen Jiaming, Executive Dean of Sichuan University of Light Chemical Industry, the first lantern academy in China, has been obsessed with lantern culture and skills for nearly 40 years. He has obtained national patents and designed more than 5,000 lantern works, among which "The King of Chinese Lanterns", "Chinese Cabbage" and "The Yellow Dragon Sees the Water" have won many awards, and hundreds of works have been exhibited overseas.