Blessings under the sissors (Paper-cutting )
The paper-cut is one of China's most popular and characteristic folk arts. It takes paper as the material and scissors or engraving knives as the tool. The tradition can be traced back to the 6th century. However, it probably emerged even a few centuries earlier.
In Chinese culture paper-cuts symbolize the idea of blessedness, luck and fortune. In the past, paper-cuts were sometimes used for religious purpose, serving as decorations for sacrificial offerings to the ancestors and gods. Nowadays most Chinese families use them as window decorations for entrance gates, windows, walls, columns, mirrors, lamps and lanterns.
During some important festivals, such as China's traditional Spring Festival, it is very significant to paste some paper-cuts on entrance gates. They are supposed to bring good luck for the family. Besides, paper-cuts are also used for decoration on presents or are given as presents. Some paper-cuts are specially made into embroidery base patterns used in decorating clothes and lacquer work.
The paper-cut art has been widely spread and of a long history. It has exerted an influence on decorative patterns, shadow plays, printed cloth, embroidery and paintings. Folk paper-cuts outline the natural forms by way of employing characters, symbol and implication to constitute beautiful patterns. As a form of folk art, it occupies a significant position in the folk activities, with quite a few popular forms as follows:
Window paper-cutting, or window flowers, refers to the type of paper-cutting works pasted on windows as an ornament. In North China, farmers' houses are mostly windowed with wooden squares. It is commonly seen that a layer of white leather paper is pasted on the vertical squares, rectangular squares or geometrically patterned squares. In case of some important holidays, such as Spring Festival, instead of the old leather paper, new paper-cutting work is pasted as a symbol of bidding farewell to the outgoing year and ushering the New Year in. The fauna and flora, figurines as well as a series of theatrical tales can all become the themes of the window paper-cuts.
It is a type of paper-cutting works that hang on the gate sills. It is also called "hanging label", "hanging money". It is in the form of flag with big head, double size and lower part as tassel. It is engraved on red paper or multi-colored paper, with geometrical patterns. Embedded with figures, flowers, phoenix, dragons and the other propitious characters, the gate label must be hung in series when hung up.
It is used to decorate the household appliances and indoor furniture, such as teapot, soapbox, basin, and dressing mirror. It takes the form of circle, rectangle, peach, pomegranate and other propitious patterns. The auspicious themes and red color imply happiness.
Gift paper-cut is attached to cakes, birthday noodles and eggs. In Shandong Province, people attach it onto the "happy egg" to celebrate a baby's birth. Tortoise-patterned paper cuts symbolic of longevity are commonly seen in the countryside of Fujian Province.