The Ramadan Lantern – A Fatimid Tradition

Photo: Heba Helmy,

Fanous Ramadan (the Ramadan lantern) is an essential part of Ramadan’s magical atmosphere in Egypt. Some sources date the fanous back to a celebration during the Fatimid dynasty when Egyptians welcomed the arrival of the Fatimid Ismaili Imam/Caliph Muizz to Cairo by lighting hundreds of lanterns. Since that time, the fanous lanterns and lamps of various kinds, of many hues and degrees of brightness, and even both real and imaginary, have always been special to Egypt. Before the coming of electricity, Cairo itself was noted for its spectacular use of lanterns to illuminate the city, especially during the holy month of Ramadan.


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