Ancient ceramic lamps in China

清 雍正 彩粉狮形烛台 清光绪 青花烛台



  Lamps and lanterns have a long history of evolvement. The first heap of needfire people used, namely the first lighting in the history. With the passage of time, it was found that needfire cannot be removed, so torch was then invented. Stringently speaking, such torch cannot be called a lamp, but it is the previous form of lamps and lanterns. In ancient times, the Chinese word which means "lamp" just originated from the word "bean", because they have the same form. "Bean" is a kind of ceramic tableware from the Neolithic Age to the warring period. Its mouth just like a shallow plate and the latter part of it is a ring foot.
  In order to illumine, lampwick and grease were put in the center part of the "bean" by our ancestors. This lamp was passed on from generation to generation for thousands of years and became the symbol of light. The first lamp was invented in the warring period. It was proved that those lamps were mainly bronze ones and elegant in form.
In Han Dynasty, the production of lamps developed quickly. On one hand, the bronze lamps remain a marvelous state in shape, decoration, and artistic value. On the other hand, ceramic lamps became the main stream of lamps and prevailed in the lower classes.
  Till Song and Yuan Dynasty, bronze lamps almost disappeared while ceramic lamps played an important role. The base of the lamp began to change from people to animals. What is more, people gradually realized the importance of saving energy, so new kinds of lamp were invented.
  Ming and Qing Dynasty are the summit for the development of ceramics. Without exception, lamps were rich in kind and texture. The appearance of palace lantern made it an epoch in the history of lamps and lanterns. They were not only the instrument for illumination but also artistic works for display.
  In ancient times, the fuel for lamps are mainly grease of plants. With the use of kerosene from the latter part of 19th century, kerosene lamps began to prevail in China. But later it was replaced by electric light step by step. So the lamps were reserved in the museum since then.



汉 绿釉人形陶灯