Paper Cutting, the Splendid Art

Paper cutting is a traditional folk art in China. Its origin would be closely connected with the invention of paper during the Han Dunasty (206 BC - 221 AD), since when it became one of the main forms of arts, and was popular to the people of the time; even in royal families ladies were also judged by the ability at papercut. 

The main cutting tools are simple: paper and scissors or an engraving knife, but clever and deft craftspeople are remarkably good at cutting in the theme of daily life. Some of popular themes include portrayal of animal gestures, patterns of natural plants, and other such as a married daughter returning to her parents' home, or young people paying a New Year call to their grandparents.

Although other art forms, like painting, can also show similar scenes, paper cutting still stands out for its charm - exacting lines and ingenious patterns which are all hand-made. To make the three-dimensional scenes pop out visually from the paper, as they are usually in monochrome, engravers must exert their imagination. 

It is easy to learn about cutting a piece of paper but very difficult to master it with perfection. One must grasp the knife in an upright fashion and press evenly on the paper with some strength. Flexibility is required but any hesitation or wiggling will lead to imprecision or damage the whole image.

The Chinese make delicate papercuts for celebrations, festivals and home decoration. They find hope and comfort in expressing wishes with paper cuttings. For example, for a wedding ceremony, red paper cuttings are a traditional and required decoration on the tea set, the dressing table glass, and on other furniture. A big red paper character 'Xi' (happiness) is a traditional must on the newlywed's door. Upon the birthday party of a senior, the character 'Shou' represents longevity and will add delight to the whole celebration; while a pattern of plump children cuddling fish signifies that every year they will be abundant in wealth.

Source: http://www.travelchinaguide.com/