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Last update: 07/17/2012
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Yipeng Festival
Yipeng Lantern
              Before yipeng, Lanna artisans will be busy making lanterns of all shapes to hold a candle as part of the candlelight worship at the temples and chedis or to decorate their houses with. These artisans can be as creative as they like. The ancient style lanterns are in the shapes of ant nests (Dhamma wheel), stars, jar-shaped, diamond-shaped, cylinders, rabbit's ears, Japanese lotus and so on. Recently innovative ones are in such shapes as rockets, airplanes, umbrellas or parachutes, castles and so on. The frame is made from bamboo and covered with saa (mulberry) paper, cotton cut into various patterns elaborately decorated with silver or gold colors. A well known area for lantern making is Ban Mueang Sat, Tambon Nong Hoi, Mueang District of Chiang Mai.
            Yipeng lanterns are different in shape and design unique to the area where they are produced.

            The ant-nest lantern or the Wheel of Dhamma style is one that looks like the nest of red ants. It has an octagonal shape and is sometimes called "dhammachak". Bamboo strips are cut into 1 cm. wide and 2-3 cm. thick and folded into 16-24 corners tied with thread. Then a triangle piece of bamboo is formed to be the holder part.
Paper is pasted around the frame leaving the top part open for the candle holder to be put in and the air to flow in.
            paper cut into different patterns like four petal flowers or sun's rays are used for decoration. The tails are pasted onto the lantern. This type of lantern is used to worship the Buddha.

            The Jar lantern is one that looks like a jar with the top part slightly wider than the bottom part. The upper part is hexagonal in shape, the bottom is square. The upper part is made into four triangles to form the handle. The body part is made from bamboo shaped almost oval and decorated with patterned saa (mulberry) paper. The tail is made from paper nicely cut into patterns. The mouth has a hole to hold the candle. This type of lantern can be used anywhere.
It is sometimes referred to as "khom phet" (diamond) as it looks nice and attractive. It can be given as a house warming gift to signify wealth of silver and gold pots. As a wedding gift it symbolizes good fortune. Nowadays, it is popular as a house decoration.

            The Krachang Lantern or Khom krachang is shaped like a crown. It is also referred to as Khom hai since its basic shape is a jar in an inverted or upside down position. The top part of it looks lke a row of lotus petals in a traditional Thai pattern known as "krachang" popular for trimming the rim or edge of futniture.

            The Star Latnern or khom dao is shaped into a five pointed star. It is made from bamboo strips covered with paper or cloth decorated with silver and gold tinsel cut into a round pattern like a sun. A small hole is made in the middle to place a candle holder in. this type of lantern comes from the Tai Yai in Mae Hong Son Province who use it for the end of the Buddhist Lent ceremony to welcome the Lord Buddha when descending from heaven after blessing his mother. (Benchaphon Sithipranit, 2008, p.11).

            The Cylinder Lantern is easily made using bamboo strips of 1 cm. width and 1-3 mm. thick to form two circles of 15 cm. diameter, one piece at the top and the other one at the bottom and covered with paper to approximately 15-20 cm. length. The bottom part is closed with a piece of round cardboard paper to hold the lit candle. Colorful tinsel is cut into desired patterns and used to decorate the lantern.
            A square shaped one can be made, too, and it is called “khom lo” as it is similar to the kind that ox cart caravan merchants used to light the path at night.

            The Ngio Lantern or "khom ngio" was adopted from the Tai Yai people. This type is the most difficult to make as it is complicated with several angles and facets to look like a diamond. Thus it is called "khom phet" when it delicately sends out rays at different angles and in directions though without an ornamental tail.

            The Turning Lantern is the kind that turn round and round and is called "khom phat" ("phat" is a Lanna word that means "turning"). It is cylindrical in shape about 50 cm. wide and 50-70 cm. high. It is usually covered with white saa or kite paper. The inside part is shaped into a circle using thread to wind around.
Black paper is cut into a scene telling a story of the Buddha's life, the Vessandon story, zodiac signs, daily activities, etc., and pasted on the side of the lantern. This type of lantern has some mechanical device attached to it to make it turn around an axle and show the picture stories and which makes it especially fascinating to children.

            The Waist Lantern or "khom aeo" is made by joining 2-5 ant-nest lanterns together making it 1-5 meters long. The joining part is linked by a piece of bamboo in four points making it look like a tall post. Sometimes light bulbs are used instead of candles to make the light more intense. (Noppadon Khammoon, personal communication, Nov. 21, 2008; Prasong Saeng-ngam, personal communication, Nov. 21, 2008)

            The Japanese Lantern is the foldable kind like the Japanese ones. It is called "khom yo" ("yo" in Lanna means "made smaller"). The body part is made from kite paper of bright colors. It comes in various shapes (circular, square, triangular and oval). It is also cheaper than other kinds but is not very popular (Bualai Khanapanya, Interview, Nov. 5, 2008)
Lantern Offering
            The giving of an offering as part of the Yipeng lantern presentation comprises flowers and candles. The evening time is set for the sermon of Anisongphangprathit, followed by lantern launching or being hung up on a large bamboo post. People often pray to the Five Buddhas: Kokusantha,, Konakhama, Kassapa, Khotama and Ariyamettai, asking for the blessing of their wellbeing and for their life to be as bright as fire, as clear as water, free from bad luck or danger or disasters of all kinds.
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