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Frangipani Lanterns

Frangipani lanterns may sound rather strange for most local Guangzhou folks, but these floral lanterns used to be immensely popular among local people and frangipani was the favorite flower of local residents as well.

Frangipanis feature by luxuriant petals and exude elegance and purity. They are a delight to behold. Legend has it that frangipanis bloom at midnight and come into blossoms when used as a hair ornament, that they turn all the more luxuriant and aromatic under moonlight, and that they help fend off heat in summer and can clear way the lung heat as well. Frangipani lanterns are typically shaped like a dragon or phoenix. People from outside of Guangdong marvel at these elaborate lanterns. In another local custom, frangipani balls are presented to tipsy guests at a banquet as they have believed to have sobering effects. In general, frangipani balls are for male guests only, while female guests are presented with jasmine flowers.

July and August are the time when frangipanis bloom most luxuriantly. During these two months, women working in the flower field would pick frangipani buds before dawn before they came into full blossom. The buds were then wrapped in damp cloth so that they would not bloom under sunlight. The pearl-like buds were sold by weight to merchants who crossed the river. They were then shipped to the Wuxianmen Wharf in the town before they were put on sale at the town gates. This custom dates back the Han Dynasty (206BC – 25BC).

(Translated by Guangzhou Association of Foreign Affairs Translators)

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