Paper-cutting is one of the most popular forms of Chinese traditional folk art. Its materials arc easy to get and low in cost. Paper-cuttings not only reflect the aesthetic interest of the folk artists, but also represent the national mentality of Chinese people.
1 ) History of Paper cutting
Paper-cuts are patterns cut on paper by scissors or engraving knife. Among the many traditional handicrafts, the history of paper-cutting is very long and can be dated back to Han Dynasty. It became quite popular in Northern and Southern Dynasties and prospered during the Qing Dynasty. Traditional paper-cuts mostly come form rural areas and are made by women in small hamlets of the countryside. Paper-cutting is an art form that is very suitable for country women who ca.n do the cutting whenever they are free from farm work and use it for both practical and decorative purposes,
2) The Use of Paper cuts
Paper-cuts were used as the ornament of the offerings to sacrifice ancestors and supernatural beings. Nowadays. paper-cuts are mainly used for interior decoration. People paste paper-cuts on wails, doors, windows, poles, mirrors, lamps and lanterns at wedding ceremonies or festivals to beautify the surroundings and enhance the festive atmosphere. Gift paper-cuts are often seen as decorations on cakes, birthday noodles, eggs and other gifts. In Shandong Province, people attach gift paper-cuts to the symbolic “happy egg” to celebrate a baby’s birth. Paper-cuts themselves are popular presents for friends and family. There are some special paper-cuts of traditional design used as patterns for embroidering clothes, shoes, hats, pillowcases, curtains and door curtains.
Chinese paper-cutting is rich in content and usually has symbolic meanings. Re auspicious designs symbolize good luck and the avoidance of evil. For example, paper- cut based on Chinese character”福” means happiness and luck. The designs of child, lotus and bottle gourd suggest a happy family with a large number of children and grandchildren. Tortoise-patterned paper-cuts symbolize longevity, which are commonly seen in the countryside of Fujian Province. Domestic birds, livestock, fruit, fish and worms are also familiar objects depicted by Chinese folk paper-cutting
3) Regional Features of Paper cutting
Paper-cutting can be seen all over the country. Different places feature their very unique style, though. Shaanxi window paper-cuts are simple and bold; Heboi and Shaanxi paper-cuts are bright in color; Shandong paper-cuts are exquisite and great care is paid to details. Paper-cuts from Jiangsu are delicate and fine; paper-cuts from Guangdong are rich in color and various in cutting techniques. Generally speaking, the paper-cuts of the south are delicate and beautiful and those of the north arc bold and straight forward.