When we think of lanterns we quickly arrive at a fork in the road of our imaginations: One direction leads us down a path of adventurous exploration, and the other terminates in the realm of nightmares.Why is that? As with much else in life, we can blame history and Hollywood, and not necessarily in that order.We see a lantern
and we think old-timey treasure hunt
or I’m about to get eaten by a werewolf
. A very few among us may be moved to romantic thoughts of traversing London’s cobblestones in the fog or the historical thrill of Paul Revere’s midnight run, but in most of our imaginations we’re either lost in the woods with a lantern, about to die in the woods with a lantern – or both.Lanterns in History
A lot of this is due to the lantern’s relatively unchanged appearance since its invention in the 9th century (with regard to candle lanterns, anyway). When we see the familiar lantern shape we just think of old stuff happening in olden times - times before electricity and the brighter world we know today.In this way, lanterns ask us to reflect on a time we don’t know too much about, save for the fact that it was likely plagued with poverty, war, death and … well … plagues. That ancient and haunting darkness so poorly lit by the first lanterns was probably hiding some pretty awful stuff.Lanterns in Culture and Mythology
Horror movies and lanterns go together like PB&J; anybody holding one is surely doomed. We can all picture the waning flicker of light as the character billed as "Teenager #5" in the end credits uses the dying flame to try and beat back the night, when all of a sudden ... duhn, duhn, duhhhhhn ...
But, of course, the fate of the lantern bearer often extends beyond the thriller genre. It seems that anyone obliged to hold a lantern on the silver screen is in trouble: Miners, explorers and seafaring folk are all just one stiff breeze away from eternal darkness. There is often symbolism buried in the familiar trope, whether it represents the impermanence of life – or its tenacity.Then there are the villains! Pirates, bandits, thieves and ne’er-do-wells of all stripes are shown prowling for victims with lanterns in hand. And, that’s not to mention the Grim Reaper himself, often depicted lighting the way for the dead with a lamp clasped in his bony claw.Finally, let us not forget poor Tinker Bell – trapped and used as a lantern
– by a pirate! Gah!Lanterns in Lovelier Aspects
Naturally, our view of lanterns and lantern lighting
doesn’t skew toward the nightmarish. In fact, absent all the creepy vibes instilled by history and Hollywood it’s hard to argue with the beauty of lanterns, whether as lighting fixtures
, portable lamps or simple décor.ATGStores.com
invites you to take a second look at lanterns and how they light your dreams.