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Paper Cutting

By:Alice
Chinese paper cutting is a kind of folk art that uses scissors or carving knife to cut patterns on paper for decorating life or other folk activities. In China, paper-cutting has a broad mass base and is an important part of various folk activities.
On May 20, 2006, the paper cutting art heritage was approved by the state council to be included in the first batch of National Intangible Cultural Heritage List. At the 4th meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the protection of intangible cultural heritage of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) held on October 2, 2009, the paper cutting project declared by China was included in the representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity.
In December 2018, the general office of the Ministry of Education announced that Nanjing University of Aeronautics was the base for the inheritance of traditional Chinese paper-cut culture.


History of Chinese Paper-Cutting
According to unearthed cultural relics, paper-cuts appeared at least in the Northern Dynasty (386-581). As a result, it has a history of more than 1500 years. There was no paper, so cloth, leather, gold foil and other materials were used to make this hollowing-out art.
At first, paper cutting was only popular in the countryside, and the owners were all farm women. They may have been doing it all their lives, creating hundreds of life-like works, from teenagers to white-haired old people.
Today, it has developed into an art form that can fully represent Chinese traditional folk culture. Paper cutting combined with painting and other forms of folk art, is a window to understand the traditional Chinese folk art.


Types
Paper-cuts are divided into two types: simple and natural monochrome and gorgeous and colorful Paper-cut. Chinese paper-cuts are mainly created by women in rural areas. The design is usually related to the cultural environment, such as poultry, livestock, crops, flowers, birds, babies, local opera dramas or auspicious symbols. They are used for the lunar New Year or other festivals and are usually pasted on windows, doors, walls, ceilings and lights. Some are used as replicas of embroidery. Their graceful lines and cheerful images bring joy to the lives of ordinary Chinese people.
As the customs vary from place to place, paper cutting varies according to the region where it is found. In the south, the most famous paper-cuts are the Foshan paper-cuts in Guangdong and the folk paper-cuts in Fujian. They are strict, decorative, elegant and brilliant. In the north, the most famous paper-cuts in China are window paper-cuts in Shaanxi Province, and the local opera statues in Wei County, Hebei Province, usually reflecting the lives of local farmers as well as the happiness of festivals and prosperous life.


Tools of Paper-Cutting
The main tools of paper cutting are scissors and carving knife. They rely on different methods to cut paper, but both can cut paper well. For scissors, hold several sheets of paper (up to eight) together. Then cut off the pattern. For the knife, lay several layers of paper on a soft foundation consisting of a mixture of tallow and ashes. Skilled craftsmen are even free to cut different drawings all the time.


Popular Paper-cuts
Window Paper-cut

Window paper-cut, also known as "Window cut", refers to the paper-cut work pasted on the window during some important festivals, such as the Spring Festival, as an ornament. They should bring good luck to the family.


Gate Label
This is a kind of paper-cut hanging on the door frame. It is also known as "hang tag" It is carved on red or multicolor paper and has geometric designs. There are characters, flowers, phoenix, dragon and other auspicious characters embedded on the door plate.
 

Festival Paper-cut
It is used to decorate household appliances and indoor furniture such as teapots, soap containers, basins and vanity mirrors. It has round, rectangular, peach, pomegranate and other auspicious patterns. Auspicious themes and red symbolize happiness.


Gift Paper-cut
Gift paper cuts are attached to cakes, birthday noodles and eggs. In Shandong Province, people paste it on a "happy egg" to celebrate the birth of a baby. Moire paper-cut is a common symbol of longevity in rural Fujian.

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