Originated from the 6th century when women used to paste golden and silver foil cuttings onto their hair at the temples, and men used them in sacred rituals, paper-cut is a very distinctive visual art of Chinese handicrafts. Later, they were used during festivals to decorate gates and windows. After hundreds of years' development, now they have become a very popular means of decoration among country folk.
The main cutting tools are paper and scissors or an engraving knife. When you look at items made in this method carefully, you will be amazed by the true to life expressions of the figure's sentiment and appearance, or portrayal of natural plants and animals' diverse gestures. Patterns of chrysanthemum display the curling petals, pied magpies show their tiny feathers.
Although other art forms, like painting, can also show similar scenes, paper cutting still stands out for its charm. The exact lines and ingenious patterns are all hand-made. To make the three-dimensional scenes pop out visually from the paper, engravers must exert their imagination. They must delete secondary parts and compose the main body properly, abstractly and boldly. Though simple, the color then appears charmingly bright.
Paper-cut can be used to express wishes. For example, a big red paper character 'Xi' (happiness) is a traditional must on the newlywed's door. Red paper cuttings are also a traditional and required decoration on the tea set, the dressing table glass, and on other furniture.
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.
During the Spring Festival, the character “Fu” is pasted upside down on the door to express people’s wish for the coming of happiness.