As a lamp is defined as the combination of a self-luminous light source and a wind or rain protection. A simple small table lamp is often referred to as a lantern.

The protection from weather and dust or mechanical stress makes the durable, low-maintenance operation of a light source in the open air at all possible.

The installation of lights on light poles is particularly common for street lighting. The component containing the light sources of a lighthouse is also referred to as lamp.


Lanterns were common in the early Middle Ages. A light source, usually a candle, more rarely a small oil lamp was placed in a metal frame, the sides of which were formed by thinly shaved horny plates or at the time consuming by glass or crystal panes. They served for hanging in living rooms, as worn light source on dark paths ( night watchman ) and as signals to ships. There were also pure brass lanterns with many holes in, mostly round, barrel to air in and out to allow light. Hanging lanterns in wrought iron were the subject of artistic education in the 16th century.

Lantern techniques

As light sources, different techniques are used:

  • The children Lantern, which is usually made ​​on the occasion of lantern running on St. Martin of cardboard and colored, transparent paper, is operated with a candle or a battery-powered light bulb (see also lantern ). Historically, these are essentially a recreation of how she used to assist the medieval night watchman of the cities. This model was typically made ​​of metal and glass.
  • Lanterns which can rise and float due to their lightweight design and by the heat of a local fire, Kong Ming lanterns are called.
  • Miners and cavers used earlier and partly still also lanterns. It came partly candles or oil, but later models with the gas-forming moisture carbide used (see carbide lamp ). The lantern had to be totally enclosed and explosion-proof so because of the omnipresent danger of the mine explosion ( firedamp ) due to natural gas formation in the tunnel. However, this encapsulation was not executed impermeable, but realized by metal nets. First, the flame needed air to burn, and secondly showed a blue line around the flame, the presence of explosive gases on. Flames are not due to metal grids, so the design was safe. Nowadays, you will usually electric lights which can not be completely sealed.
  • The sailor knows the ship's lantern and the lantern position, showing his ship in accordance with legal regulations from sunset to sunrise or even during the day in poor visibility ( lead ) must. Previously generated on board kerosene lamps, these light sources, now make the light bulb or other electrical bulbs.
  • Gas lanterns were used until about 1960 as gas lighting of streets, but today only in a few cities in use. In the camping and outdoor use gas lamps are still in use, which are fed usually from gas cylinders and gas cartridges.
  • The Petroleum Stark lantern light generated in a mantle by combustion of thermally vaporized liquid fuel a very bright light.
  • The orange light of sodium vapor lamp (metal halide lamp ) is often used for high-contrast illumination of crossing areas / pedestrian crossings.
  • In many cases, the individual light fittings for the usual street lights are called lantern. (see: lantern Garage)

A central part of the Chinese New Year is the Lantern Festival.


English wooden lantern from aboard the Mary Rose (16th century)

Lantern makers, woodcut from 1568

Steam locomotive lantern

Jack O'Lantern, pumpkin lanterns

Two kerosene lanterns

Left lighthouse tower on the right