According to lore, sky lanterns were used as beacons in Pingxi in the 19th century. During attacks by bandits, villagers fled their homes and hid in the mountains. When the danger was gone, those who had remained behind released these lanterns to signal that it was safe to return home. The lanterns were later adopted for popular uses and flown during festivities.
Patrick Lin / AFP / Getty Images
Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times