Sunday, March 8, 2009

Beautiful stuff - hand made Paper Cutting -Chinese traditional ART

Chinese Paper Cutting or Jianzhi (Chinese: 剪纸, jiǎn zhǐ) is the first type of papercutting design, since paper was invented by Cai Lun in the Eastern Han Dynasty in China. The art form later spread to other parts of the world with different regions adopting their own cultural styles. Because the cut outs are also used to decorate doors and windows, they are sometimes referred to "chuāng huā" (窗花), meaning Window Flower.

The bright colors and auspicious words of papercuts provide a strong merry atmosphere, so they are often found in wedding ceremonies or festivals in China. Hanging on the door, walls and windows is said to bring good FengShui to the house.

About my grandama. She passed away in 2006, when my daughter came to the world. She learnt the cutting skills when she was a daughter in a rich family in 30s--40s, in old China. She married my grandapa when she was 15 years old, when the PR China was founded. She became a common worker in a steel factory but she spent all her spare time on her obssession-Papercutting. She finished many many work pieces when she was too old.

Designs:Chinese culture have always tried to find symbols. Like Chinese Calligraphy expression, single Chinese characters are often used to describe some meaning or representation. Other symbols like the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac are symbolically found in paper cut arts, even today. The basic art is generally 2D. The more advanced paper cuttings are usually done in stacks where it unfolds into some 3D object such as a lantern. Red seems to be the most popular color.

Main Process of paper cutting1、Constructional image designDraw the picture design outlook streaks. The more detailed you make the drawing, the more easily your cutting will be. If you are cutting a symmetrical image, you may just draw half. 2、Cutting If you use knife, you have to adhere the image onto the rice paper with a stapler, edges onto the wax a wax plate (Mixture of sheep fat/cattle fat and sawdust ashes/sandalwood, framed with square wood bar in a square). Cutting from the most detailed part of the image in from-left -to-right , from-small-to-big, from-slim-to-crude, from-part-to-complete order. You’d better NOT re-cut at the same place. Cut off all useless paper parts. You can’t tear with hand.

Uses:Today, papercuttings are chiefly decorative. They ornament walls, windows, doors, columns, mirrors, lamps and lanterns in homes and are also used on presents or are given as gifts themselves. Entrances are decorated with paper cut outs is supposed to bring good luck. Papercuttings used to be used as patterns, especially for embroidery and lacquer work.In Chinese culture it can reflect many aspects of life such as prosperity, health, or harvest. Some cuttings represent stories about the happiness gained from the accomplishment of common goals.

Process:There are two methods of manufacture: one use scissors, the other use knives. In the scissor method, several pieces of paper - up to eight - are fastened together. The motif is then cut with sharp, pointed scissors. AVERAGE TIME spent on each work: 5-8 HOURS

Knife cuttings are fashioned by putting several layers of paper on a relatively soft foundation consisting of a mixture of tallow and ashes. Following a pattern, the artist cuts the motif into the paper with a sharp knife which is usually held vertically. Skilled crafters can even cut out different drawings freely without stopping.


  1. thank you very much.
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  2. Well, now you have answered some of my questions on the amount of time involved in paper cutting. This is a nice description giving the background and some of the techniques. As always, even something as simple sounding as paper cutting is more involved then one would think at first.