The sale and display of traditional flying lanterns have been
banned in Nanjing, capital of eastern Jiangsu province, over safety
concerns, local officials said on Wednesday.
The lamp is also known as the Kongming Lamp: its inventor, Zhuge
Liang (181-234), who is also known as Zhuge Kongming, was a notable
statesman and strategist in the Three Kingdoms period. The lamp is
traditionally made of paper and carried aloft by hot air from a
"The temperature could be as high as 300 degrees Celsius," said
an official with the Nanjing government. If used improperly "it
would pose a threat to aircraft, power supply lines and
telecommunications equipment and could set fire to forests and
The lamp, which retails for 10 to 15 yuan (1.4 to 2.1 U.S.
dollars), could fly "a thousand meters high", the official
One lamp ignited a tree branch in downtown Nanjing last
Wednesday but didn't cause large fire due to timely firefighting,
according to the local Nanjing Daily.
First used as a signal in battles, the flying lantern became
popular among folk in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) as symbol of
wishes displayed during festivals.
The Chinese Lantern Festival, or 'Yuanxiao Festival', takes
place on the 15th day of the first lunar month, the first night of
the new year where there is a full moon.
On that evening, people hang up red lanterns believed to bring
good luck, solve word puzzles, perform lion and dragon dances and
eat yuanxiao -- a round dumpling made of glutinous rice and sweet
filling. The festival will fall on Thursday this year.
(Xinhua News Agency February 20, 2008)