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Paper Cutting


Paper cutting is a folk culture with so long a history. When Chinese lunar New Year is coming, it is a custom for northern people to paste the paper cutting on window. Gradually, it develops into an art form, one of the most popular traditional decoration art. It is recorded that there were decorations made by gold and silver foils, leather and silk products in 1600BC (Shang dynasty), enchased in various patterns. We can say that paper cutting derived from these art forms.
 
In the early time, people made images of human and subjects by hemp-paper to bury together with body in the tomb or to burn on the funerals. With the special symbolization meaning, paper cutting was used as decorations on sacrificing ceremonies.
 
In 105AD, Cailun improved the paper making technique and large amount of paper was produced, which laid a foundation for the spread of paper cutting. Beautiful patterns were created and gradually, the patterns were widely used in other fields later, such as on bronze mirror tails and on lacquers.
 
There had been more records of paper cutting since 960 AD (Song dynasty). Professional paper cutting artists appeared, specializing on different patterns. Some were good at cutting flowers while some others were authorities at characters’ cutting. Thus the patterns were abundant and colorful: phoenix, clubs, characters with the meaning of luck and happiness etc. Some were made exclusive for presents’ decorations and some were cut for posting on. One of the most important contributions of paper cutting in Song dynasty was that patterns were used on the Chinas and dyeing cloth.