Shining a Light on the Beauty of Paper Lamps

What Are Paper Lamps?

Paper lamps, also known as lanterns, are a type of decorative lighting commonly used in East Asian countries such as China, Japan, and Korea. They are often made out of rice paper or silk and feature intricate designs and patterns that can be illuminated from within using LED lights or candles.

The History of Paper Lamps

Paper lamps have been around for centuries and have a rich cultural history. They were originally used in religious and ceremonial contexts, such as during Buddhist festivals in East Asia. Over time, their use expanded to include decorative and household purposes, and they have become a ubiquitous symbol of East Asian culture.

The Beauty of Paper Lamps

One of the main attractions of paper lamps is their intricate designs and patterns. These can range from simple and traditional to complex and contemporary, making them suitable for a variety of settings and events. The soft, diffused light they emit creates a warm and inviting atmosphere, making them a popular choice for homes, restaurants, and outdoor spaces.

Types of Paper Lamps

There are many different types of paper lamps available on the market, each with its own unique style and design. Some of the most popular types include:

Japanese Paper Lamps

These lanterns are typically made out of washi paper and feature traditional Japanese designs such as cherry blossoms, dragons, and kanji characters. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are often used for festive occasions such as the Obon Festival or Hinamatsuri.

Chinese Paper Lamps

Chinese paper lamps, also known as red lanterns, are a symbol of good luck and prosperity in Chinese culture. They are typically red in colour and feature auspicious symbols such as dragons, phoenixes, and the character for “happiness”. They are often used during Chinese New Year celebrations and other important festivals.

Korean Paper Lamps

Korean paper lamps, or hanji lanterns, are made out of hanji paper and feature traditional Korean designs such as the crane, peony, and mountain landscapes. They are often used as decorative items in homes and restaurants, and are also popular as gifts.

How to Choose a Paper Lamp

When choosing a paper lamp, there are several factors to consider:


The design of the paper lamp will largely determine its style and suitability for different settings. Traditional designs may be more appropriate for religious or cultural events, while contemporary designs may work better in modern homes and restaurants.


Paper lamps come in a variety of sizes, from small handheld lanterns to large floor lamps. Consider the space where the lamp will be used and choose a size that is appropriate for the setting.


Many paper lamps come with LED lights or candle inserts. Consider the type of lighting that is most suitable for your needs, and ensure that the lamp can accommodate the appropriate lighting source.

Caring for Paper Lamps

While paper lamps are delicate and require careful handling, they are relatively easy to care for. Here are some tips to keep your paper lamp looking its best:

Keep them dry

Moisture can cause paper lamps to become discoloured or damaged, so it’s important to keep them dry. Avoid placing them in areas where they may come into contact with water or condensation.

Clean them gently

To clean a paper lamp, use a soft, dry cloth to gently wipe away any dust or debris. Avoid using water, cleaners, or other liquids that may damage the delicate paper or colouring.

Store them carefully

When not in use, store paper lamps in a cool, dry, and dark place. Avoid storing them in areas where they may be exposed to direct sunlight or moisture, as this can cause fading or damage over time.


Paper lamps are a beautiful and versatile form of decorative lighting that have a rich cultural history. Whether used for religious or cultural events, as decorative items, or as gifts, they add a touch of elegance and warmth to any setting. By choosing the right design, size, and lighting, and by caring for them properly, paper lamps can provide years of enjoyment and beauty.

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