SHIJIAZHUANG, 2 February (BelTA - People'Daily Online). - Every October, villagers from Tuntou village in Gaocheng district of Shijiazhuang city, north China's Hebei Province, start to make red lanterns for Spring Festival decorations, as orders roll in one after another.
The Gaocheng palace lantern originated in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220), and is an intangible cultural heritage item in Hebei. These days, it is a pillar industry that allows local villagers to increase their incomes.
According to Bai Liwei, the Party branch secretary of Tuntou village, there are over 1,100 lantern factories in the village, and annual sales of red lanterns in the village have surpassed 100 million pairs.
A palace lantern production base covering more than 10 surrounding villages has been established in the locality, and Tuntou village is at the center. More than 70,000 people are involved in the business.
Traditional palace lanterns are handmade, and the manufacturing techniques are complex, involving nearly 60 steps. Tuntou village has built a complete industrial chain to boost manufacturing efficiency.
Inside the village's palace lantern museum, more than 200 types of palace lanterns are on display. Here, tourists can learn to make palace lanterns and deeply immerse themselves in the local lantern culture.
Bai Junping, a 69-year-old lantern maker in Tuntou village, was preparing to deliver a big palace lantern with a diameter of 6 meters to a client. "Everyone can make red lanterns here in the village, and I must improve my skills by continuing to learn so that my lanterns can be more exquisitely made and then sold at higher prices," he said.
"My daughter promotes our lanterns online and I make the lanterns. These lanterns were booked by clients ahead of the Spring Festival," Bai explained.
The development of the red lantern industry in Tuntou village has been accelerated through e-commerce, allowing them to be sold through more sales channels and become known by more people.