The use of fire made the discovery of oil lamps possible. The early form of oil lamps, Dou, existed as far back as the Paleolithic Period. Their very basic structure of a cup, a base, and a pole laid foundation for the shape of Chinese oil lamps. Thereafter, oil lamps continued to evolve; their functions were perfected, their shapes became richer and more varied.
Oil lamps not only light up darkness, but also bear human being’s pursuit towards beauty. Skilled craftsmen from ancient times exhausted infinite creativity upon these small oil lamps. From the simplest Dou, to the elaborate and ingenious13-headed, the Queen Mother of the West; from the mighty lion sitting solemnly to the handsome warhorse ready for battle; from the rugged warrior to the naïve child; from religion and faith to the secular world; from bronze-ware to tri-colored glazed pottery of the Tang Dynasty…Even for the simplest shape, craftsmen’s incessant demand for change and beauty never changed.
Lamps are not only the envoys of light and sunshine, they are also embodiments of wisdom and truth. Therefore, human beings often refer to the opening of the mind and the inheritance of culture as“the light of guidance”.
The world’s largest oil lamp museum is by the waterfront of the beautiful West Taihu Lake. More than4000 oil lamps that once lit up world history are presented in this museum, and they all belong to Chen Lyusheng. This is not only a collection of oil lamps; moreover, it represents our dream of pursuing light and truth.
As electric lamps become more and more popular, oil lamps are fading our from our time; yet, when we see a dancing flame, butterflies still flutter in our hearts. Lamps shine throughout the long nights; one lamp lights up one another, so that light never goes out. It is all thanks to each generation of“light-guiders” that Chinese civilization prevailed until today, and in endless succession.