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Culture Notes: Chinese paper cutting

In this article, Dr Li will talk about Chinese paper cutting.

Paper cutting, is cutting paper using scissors or knifes. Using scissors or knifes to make paper into different patterns and shapes. Paper cutting is one of the most popular Chinese decorative folk arts. Traditional paper cuttings are also called “Window blossoms” because they were first put on windows for decoration. Other forms of paper cutting are derived from the “window blossoms”.

The pattern and culture of paper cutting is rich. There are many different auspicious patterns in China, for example, magpies, swallows, livestock, fruit and fish, which are familiar to the farmers. They are designed for good luck and the avoidance of evil.

Paper cuttings are pasted on windows, doors and ceilings all over China during some important festivals in China, for example the Chinese Spring Festival. Also, if there is a wedding ceremony, paper cuttings can also be seen in Children’s rooms. Chinese people like red, so paper cuttings are often red. This custom has a long history which not only brings a festival atmosphere to any holiday, but it is also a way for people to express their wishes, just like Spring Festival Couplets.

There are different styles of paper cutting in different parts of China. Generally speaking, the women from Northern China pay special attention to concept, so the design flows with their thoughts, so the northern paper cuttings are simple and bold while paper cutting in Southern China are well known for their exquisite, elegant, realistic style. Therefore, northern and southern paper cuttings can be distinguished as free and rugged, or elegant and exquisite, respectively. This also reflects the differences in disposition and personality between the northern and southern parts of China.

The Chinese Paper-cut 剪纸 jiǎnzhǐ

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