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Chinese Paper Cutting

Chinese paper cutting is one of the most representative handicrafts in China. Westerners are fond of Chinese paper-cutting due to their stunning designs and their unique oriental style. Indeed, Chinese paper cuttings allow those who see them to understand daily life and the festive cultural atmosphere.

The making of paper cutting began as a popular folk art more than 2000 years ago in China. Originally, paper cutting was not used as a decoration on windows and doors. In 6th century, women used to paste golden and silver foil cuttings onto their hair at the temples, and men used them in sacred rituals. As time went by, paper cutting was gradually use as a handicraft and decoration for festivals and ceremonies. With the development of society, Chinese paper cutting has been a precious handicraft and listed as one of the world's cultural heritages by UNESCO.

Paper cutting falls into two categories: the simple and natural single-colour ones, and the gorgeous and colourful ones. Chinese paper-cuts are mostly created by women in rural areas. The designs are often related to cultural settings, such as fowls, domestic animals, crops, flowers, birds, babies, episodes from local operas or auspicious symbols. They are used at Chinese New Year or other festivals and are usually pasted on windowpanes, door lintels, walls, ceilings and lamps. Some are used as copies for embroidery. Their elegant lines and pleasing images give delight and festivity to the life of the ordinary Chinese people.

As customs vary from place to place, paper cuttings are different in style according to the region they're found. In the south, the most famous paper cutting is the Foshan paper cutting in Guangdong and folk paper cutting in Fujian Province. They are rigorous, decorative, elegant, and splendid. In the north, the most well known paper cuttings in China are those for windowpanes from Shaanxi Province, figurines of local operas from Weixian County of Hebei province which usually reflect the local life of farmers and the happiness of festivals and prosperous life.