By Margaret Ikladious: Ramadan lantern


Ramadan lantern :

Written by Margaret Euclidius- Member of the American Press ( USPA )

The Ramadan lantern is considered one of the most important and famous symbols of the month of Ramadan, and it is an integral part of the decorations and manifestations of the celebration of the advent of the blessed month.

The lantern was known in its different forms in Egypt first and then spread to the rest of the countries and other countries.

In the following, we will present the origin and stories of the Ramadan lantern throughout the ages, from the earliest history until adhering to it as a traditional tradition associated with the month of Ramadan.

However, there are stories and tales of the Ramadan lantern that are rooted in the depth of authentic and documented history far beyond what is commonly known, and there are many stories and narratives with different sources, as others are transmitted through chronological inheritance.

I made every effort to tell you all these stories..!!

The word lantern is originally a Coptic word derived from the ancient Greek language φανός and pronounced lantern.

It means a lantern or a lantern-lit by candles.

The first people to use it historically in Egypt were the Copts during monasticism and in monasteries in the past.

After that, its use moved to the popular Coptic celebrations, where they used to hang it on the gates of homes on holidays, especially Christmas and the Glorious Epiphany, and they sometimes took it out for a walk around the Nile River while practicing the rituals and rituals of some of their holidays..!!

And here we stop at Al-Maqrizi, where he says in his book "Preaching and Consideration in Dhikr al-Khatat wa'l-Athar":

  "And we realized Christmas in Cairo and Egypt, and it was a great season, in which candles blooming with salty dyes and exquisite statues were sold for unlimited money, so none of the people above or below would remain until he bought from them for his children and his family. And they called them lanterns and hung them in markets and shops, and people competed in exaggerating their prices.".!!!

This was during the Fatimid era, which granted the Copts great freedom in celebrating holidays after a period of pressure on them to practice their rituals.

And this ritual gradually leaked into the Islamic culture, and at a later time, it was not specified precisely. When did the Fatimids like the idea?

But in the end, the Fatimid caliph ordered the generalization of the use of the lantern idea to light the streets and the entrances of homes to celebrate the blessed month of Ramadan and to distinguish it from the rest of the months..

Perhaps it flourished as a festive ritual in the nineteenth century until celebrating the lantern became an essential Ramadan ritual as we know it today..!! Especially since it has been mentioned about the Fatimid Caliph Al-Aaded Deen that he used to go out to the streets on the night of the sighting to explore the sighting of the crescent of the month of Ramadan.

And the survey of the crescent was from above the minaret of the Badr Al-Jamali Mosque, and what is known as the first Ramadan procession or "the procession of seeing the crescent" appeared..

And the families of Fatimid Cairo used to accompany the Fatimid caliph on his journey, where the surveys and visions were there, and the children would go out with them to light the way for them.

And he says every child carried his lantern made of candles fixed on wooden bases covered with leather so they would not be extinguished quickly. Together, the children would sing some beautiful songs, expressing their happiness in awaiting and welcoming the month of Ramadan, and they would swing the lanterns in great joy.

However, the weakness of this narration's credibility is that we know that the surveillance of the crescent was not an individual act at that time..!!!

Rather, he was commissioned by the chief judge and, with him, some scholars to prove the vision and inform the people.

And where "decks" were being prepared for them at the foot of the Mokattam Mountain, it was known as "the judges' bench," He used to go out to it to survey the people.

He also issued an order obligating every inhabitant to hang a lit lantern over his house from sunset until sunrise throughout Ramadan..!!

He also ordered the hanging of lanterns at the entrances to the lanes and the doors of the houses and imposed fines on those who violated this.

This led to the development of the shapes of the lanterns and their different sizes according to their various uses. Then small lanterns were used to light the road. Smaller lanterns were also made for the children who participated in staying up late until dawn during the nights of Ramadan. There were large wooden lanterns for lighting other than metal and glass ones. !!!

  And here, we stop at narrating one of the stories that say that when Al-Muizz Li-Din Allah arrived in Cairo to take it as the capital of his state, its people went out to receive him.

And he was coming at that time with his family from the west, almost from the Arab Maghreb, which was almost in Ramadan in the year 358 AH / 972 AD.

And where the military commander, Jawhar al-Sikli, at that time ordered the city's residents to light the road with candles; the residents of Cairo placed the candles on wooden bases and covered them with leather to avoid extinguishing them from the fierce winds. To welcome the deposed Fatimid God who arrived at night.

And they carried torches and colored and decorated lanterns to light the way to it.

And they chanted welcome greetings, and from that day, lanterns became one of the manifestations of celebrations and customs of joy in welcoming the caliphs and princes when they entered the country.

As a result, a group of craftsmen appeared based on the manufacture and decoration of lanterns in the Fatimid era. Indeed, the caliph gathered 500 artisans in the Fatimid neighborhoods of Cairo before Ramadan to make and decorate lanterns..!!

He also told about the Fatimid caliph that when he wanted to make all the streets of Cairo illuminated during the nights of Ramadan, he ordered all the sheiks of mosques to hang lanterns on the doors of mosques and mosques to be lit by candles placed inside them.

Rather, the stories of the lantern in Ramadan have yet to end, as there is a story inherited from him, and its events take place in the tenth century AD.

Al-Hakim, by the command of God, forbade women to leave their homes throughout the year, except for the month of Ramadan, for the sake of Visiting and going to mosques for prayer.

They were preceded by a boy or boy carrying a lantern in front of them to alert the men of the presence of a woman on the road so that passers-by would notice their presence in the street, so they would allow them to pass, and turn a blind eye to them and harass them..!!

In this way, women enjoyed going out, and at the same time, they were not harassed by strangers, and they were allowed to make their way and walk comfortably without any harassment or harm.

And with time, and after women had the freedom to go out at any time, people continued to adhere to the tradition of the lantern during the nights of Ramadan, especially the children who used to circumambulate it at night and sing happily during the nights of Ramadan while collecting sweets from the neighbors Karim Ya Halo

Likewise, the lantern became a clear sign of the holy month when it was used by the Mesaharati, who walked the streets to wake people up to eat their pre-dawn meal.

And that Mesaharati was walking in the streets with his son or a family member to accompany him at night, who was carrying a lantern for illumination, as not all the roads at that time were illuminated with lamps.

Then the Fatimids began to expand the use of lanterns, so Caliph Al-Hakim issued an order to install lanterns in every alley and front of every house.

Rather, it reached the point of fining anyone who disobeyed the order, so the lantern industry flourished in Cairo remarkably.

And it became used in lighting at night and at dawn to go to the mosques to light the roads for them and protect them from the evil of the road at night or the beginning.

And another narration tells something strange about the fans, and it is that one of the authors called Al-Fayrouz Abadi, who is the author of Al-Qamos Al-Muheet, states that the origin of the meaning of the word Fanoos is (the stirrer), as the word's origin comes in the sense of (the hidden sound from the movement of the wind; the hidden sound from the movement of something; string sound).

And what is meant by the name here is that it shows its owner in the middle of the darkness with hidden movements, and he used gossip to eavesdrop on those movements at night on the affairs of others and to know what is going on in the dark without anyone feeling his movement..!!

Since then, the lantern has been associated with the month of Ramadan and its celebration, and its shapes, colors, and sizes have multiplied..!!

It has been famous for its lantern industry since ancient times, in the "under the quarter" area of Al-Azhar in the heart of Fatimid Cairo, more than 1000 years ago until now..!!

Likewise, the Birkat al-Fil area in Sayyida Zeinab is one of the most important and largest sizes, specializing in manufacturing lanterns..!!

Visitors to these areas feel that they have moved back in time to the ancient Fatimid era, especially in the evening when the lanterns are lit with colorful lights that resemble stars in the darkness of the sky and take you on a journey that is more than a thousand years old..!!

In general, the manufacture of lanterns is not seasonal. It is limited to a specific time in itself. Still, it is a prosperous and continuous industry throughout the year, as its makers excel in creating different shapes and models that are stored for sale during Ramadan, which is the season of the popularity of this industry. Its industry was famous there, then it developed and became a craft art, as it had the shape of a lamp at the beginning of copper, and candles lighted it.

Then, after the lantern was a tin can, inside which a candle was placed, the glass was installed with the tin, and some holes were made to make the candle continue to burn.!!

Then another stage began in which the tins were formed, the glass was colored, and some inscriptions and shapes were placed.

This was done manually, using glass and metal waste, and the matter required special skill and took a long time; then, it began to develop until it took the traditional form known to all of us.

After that, the lantern was made of cheap tin and decorated with carvings, hand-made decorations, and colored glass; afterward, it had a wooden base in which the candle was placed and leather edges to prevent the candles inside the lantern from being extinguished due to air.

With time, the shape of the lantern developed, and polished glass was used with different openings that changed the form of the lighting, and then the sizes of the lanterns changed and became lit with wicks and oil instead of candles, then primitive bulbs were used to be placed inside it..!!

After that, the lantern began to take forms that mimic the course of events and the different characters that are famous at present.

It has become an essential thing during Ramadan, and it has become the custom every year to decorate the streets of Cairo with all kinds and shapes of lanterns.

For many years, Egyptian families have been keen to keep it in their homes to celebrate the advent of the month of Ramadan.

However, with time, many developments took place in the shape of the lantern.

The lanterns were called the era, as there is a lantern named Prince Farouk's lantern or the great lantern of Farouk, about King Farouk, in celebration of his birthday, which was specially designed for the royal palace's celebration of his birthday, and more than 500 lanterns of this type were purchased on that day to decorate the royal palace..!!

The Parliament Lantern, named after a similar lantern, was hanging in the Egyptian Parliament Hall in the thirties of the last century.

Also, a lantern named after King Abdul Aziz, after the founder of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and his stance with Egypt.

And about the name of the authentic Egyptian lantern, and he called it the lantern (the star), which is a lantern that is more than 100 years old, and no one can manufacture it except those who used to work in the workshop of the area (Birkat al-Fil) in the Sayyida Zeinab neighborhood.

Many names have been associated with the lantern throughout history, such as "The Fanous Abu Hashwah" or "The Fanous Abu Sharaf," "The Fanous Abu Al-Ayal," "The Five-Pointed Lantern," "The Star Lantern," "The Lantern Abu Lawz," "The King's Crown Lantern" and The mermaid lantern, the pistol lantern, the rocket lantern, the Abu Dlayah lantern, the tower lantern, the small lotus lantern, the barrel lantern, the watermelon and melon lantern, and the Afrkush lantern. After the character of the goblin who appeared in a lantern in the movie The Magic Lantern" and other names are known to be lanterns.

  The origin of these names is that the people who were designing these lanterns were keen to write their words on them to know who was the owner of the design and manufacture of this type of lanterns, so it was famous for these names for a long period, then these names disappeared with time and it was only called the term "lantern". .!!

  With time, it became a pure Ramadan ritual in our modern era and was inherited from the Eligil generation, even after the appearance of the electric lantern, whose lighting relies on a battery and a bulb instead of a candle.

And it became a basis everywhere, whether in houses, cafes, streets, or even in cars, especially after its industry spread and reached China, and they excelled in its shapes and sizes, which came to the extent of the length of the key chain, which threatened the hand lantern industry..!!

The situation has improved relatively in recent years, as the lantern industry has begun to recover somewhat, as the demand for lanterns made of copper and sheet metal has already started again, especially since it is better in shape and color, and it is possible to put a candle in it or an electric bulb according to your request and desire, and so that many are looking for The tin lantern in its classic form, which occupies a special place in the hearts of millions of Egyptians, as it reminds them of the beautiful past, the fragrant history, and the good memories attached to their minds..!!

But with time, he forgot that its origin was an idea and invention of the Copts in Egypt since ancient times.

And the habit of using the lantern remained inherited in Egypt even after the use of electricity, but in villages and poor neighborhoods, then it became a special symbol for the month of Ramadan.

Wait for me in new Ramadan stories and tales.

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