Mathematics in Art: Color Symmetries of Pampanga’s Giant Christmas Lanterns

  • Imogene F. Evidente University of the Philippines Diliman
  • Angela D. Carreon University of the Philippines Diliman Extension Programs in Pampanga and Olongapo


One of the marks of Kapampangan art and culture is the Giant Christmas Lantern. Every Christmas season, giant lanterns designed by Pampanga's artists are displayed during the Giant Lantern Festival, known locally as "Ligligan Parul". In the Kapampangan vernacular, "parul" and "ligligan" mean lantern and competition respectively. In essence, the term "Ligligan Parul," embodies the contest among different barangays of creating the best giant lantern in the province. The colorful and symmetric designs of these giant lanterns have an entrancing effect and have become more and more intricate through the years. This contribution explores the giant lantern as math art.

The underlying uncolored designs of giant lanterns are simple symmetrical patterns whose mathematical structures are well known. There are various mathematical methods for coming up with the symmetric colorings of such patterns. We investigate the color symmetry of existing giant parol designs by matching them with color symmetry algorithms that make use of the subgroup structure of the symmetry group of a pattern. Finally, we demonstrate how to obtain symmetric colorings of the giant lantern that do not match any of the existing designs.

Author Biographies

Imogene F. Evidente, University of the Philippines Diliman
Dr. Imogene Evidente is an associate professor at the University of Philippines Diliman, where she earned her B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Mathematics. She specializes in mathematical crystallography and color symmetry. She also worked in the IT industry as a business analyst and project manager, and is currently pursuing her M.S. in Statistics, also at the University of the Philippines Diliman. However, she considers herself primarily a teacher, dedicated to imparting the love of learning to her students. Few things give her more joy than when her students are able to not only understand complex math concepts but are also able to find beauty in math and appreciate it for its own sake.
Angela D. Carreon, University of the Philippines Diliman Extension Programs in Pampanga and Olongapo

Angela D. Carreon is a B.S. Chemical Engineering graduate from the University of the Philippines Diliman. She finished her Master of Arts in Mathematics Education also from UP Diliman and her Graduate Diploma in Mathematics Teaching from the UP Open University. Prior to her return to the academe, she worked in the manufacturing industry as a Production Department Manager. Currently, she is an assistant professor and the Deputy Director of the University of the Philippines Diliman Extension Programs in Pampanga and Olongapo. Her research Interests include the psychology of learning Mathematics and innovative methods of teaching Mathematics.