Ancient royal lanterns light up Forbidden City for Chinese new year
BEIJING, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Large royal lanterns have returned to the Forbidden City in central Beijing, lighting up the former palace ahead of the Chinese lunar new year.
The restoration of "heaven lanterns" and "longevity lanterns" this week was a highlight of the Palace Museum's on-going new year exhibition, aiming to give visitors a feel of what it was like to usher in the new year in the royal court some 200 years ago.
Shan Jixiang, the curator, said the outdoor component of the exhibition covers the entire open space in the 600-year-old Forbidden City, with the area decorated with paper lamps, calligraphy, spring couplets and paintings of deities.
It was both a tradition in the royal court and the common households to hang lanterns during the new year. The tradition first appeared in the royal court during Emperor Qianlong's reign in the late 18th century.
According to the tradition, the "heaven lantern" shall be lit all night while the "longevity lantern" is an elaborately-decorated type of lamp with a pavilion-sculpture at the top and streamers running down on all sides.
"The lanterns are a symbol to express good wishes for the new year," Shan said.
The Chinese new year falls on Feb. 5 this year.
The new year exhibition, the largest of its kind in the Palace Museum with 885 relics, will last until April 7.