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Chinese Paper Cutting

Chinese paper cutting is one of the oldest handicrafts in China, and it’s a hollow-out art. The content varies from the animals and plants to the vividly daily life scenes. Some of them even are created into a series to telling you an interesting Chinese mystique. Some are cut into many creatures in the world on one sheet with great imagination.

According to the unearthed relics, paper cutting appeared during the Northern Dynasty (386 A.D. - 581 A .D.) at least. Hence, it has the history more than 1,500 years. Paper was not created at that time, so people did this hollow-out art in cloth, leather, gold foil and other materials.

At first, Paper cutting was only popular among the countryside, and the masters were farmwives. They might do it for their whole lives from teenagers to the grey hairs, creating hundreds of vivid pieces.

Chinese paper cutting 

Today, the art has developed into art forms that can fully represent Chinese traditional folk culture. As the paper cutting combines many folk art forms such as painting and cutting, it can serve as the window for one who wants to know the traditional Chinese folk art.

Paper Cuts in Different Places

As a folk art, paper cutting has a strong local feature. Many places in China are famous for their featured paper cutting.

Shaanxi Province stresses the simplicity of the cutting. Wei County in Hebei Province and Guangling in Shanxi Province, for example, are well known for their dyed paper cutting, which is of the brilliant colors, and with the most famous pattern of the opera characters. The paper cutting of Nanjing in Jiangsu Province has the hidden refinement under the skin-deep roughness. As to the paper cutting of Foshan in Guangdong Province, it has the highly ornamental function for its various colors and pattern as well as the fine workmanship.

Chinese paper cutting

Theme of the Paper CuttingTheme of paper cutting always relates to nature worship and reflects people’s life and work. The biggest similarity is that people will enlarge the topic they cut, so everything is bigger than the real size-bigger fish, bigger pepper, and bigger grain and so on. Chinese people put their hope to the paper cutting to praise people’ creation to the nature and encourage people to keep going.


Paper cutting falls into the many categories according to their sticking places and functions. There are cutting for window, door, wall, and those for roof and light as well as for marriage and different festivals. Many of them are used during the New Year and marriage to add up the happy and auspicious atmosphere.

Chinese paper cutting

As to the Patterns, it has a distinctive usage. Pattern serves as a model to make other paper cuttings. Once a cutting is finished, it is fastened to a white sheet. Then place the sheet above the candle light to make the pattern appear on the sheet by smoking. By this simple way, the farmwives have passed down many valuable patterns.

Materials for Paper Cutting

Paper cutting requires rather simple tool that only consists of engraving knifes, scissor and papers but deft skill as well as experience and carefulness.

Chinese people, especially people in northern China, like to use paper cutting as a decoration when Chinese New Year coming. To some extent, Chinese paper cutting is not only a decoration, but also an emotion.