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Chinese paper cutting

Take a visit to the rural countryside in north China at the Spring Festival, and you are certainly to be impressed by the red color on the windows and doors of every household. It is the Chinese paper cuts.

Paper cutting is a popular Chinese folk art. In the past, every girl was expected to master it, and brides were often judged by their paper cutting skills. At festivals and other festive occasions like a wedding, the Chinese would decorate walls, windows, doors, columns, mirrors, lamps and lanterns in homes with paper cuts, or simply gave out paper cuts as gifts. Good luck is supposed to be with the household decorated with paper cuts.

Red is the most common color used, though not necessarily the exclusive one, as it is deemed a most auspicious color and easily associated with life (blood), vitality, prosperity, etc. in Chinese folk customs. Diverse designs are available, covering a wide range of subjects and themes. Many aspects of life such as prosperity, health, harvest, fertility, and successes are reflected in the designs. Usual images include dragons, phoenixes, fishes, flowers, children, Buddhas, etc. Some designs may also simply feature a certain Chinese character or an auspicious idiom, or illustrate a representative scene in a certain Chinese folk tale.
Chinese Paper Cutting China Folk CultureChinese paper cut - gold fishes
Paper cuts are commonly seen on households in north China, especially at Spring Festivals.
Paper cut - gold fishes
Fish is a recurring image in Chinese folk custom, which is popular thanks to its association of fertility.
Yuanyang birds (madarin ducks) - Chinese paper cutsKitten chasing butterflies - Chinese paper cuts
Yuanyang birds (madarin ducks)
Yuanyang birds usually appear in pairs. They are symbols of romantic love in Chinese culture.
Kitten chasing butterflies
Cats are among the favorite animals of the Chinese folk.
Chinese character of "福 fu", (good fortune) - Chinese paper cutsKid riding on a giant fish - Chinese paper cuts
Chinese character of "福 fu", meaning good fortune
The paper cut contains various images to form the character of “福": fish, magpie, butterfly, flower, deer, peaches, all of which are popular for their auspicious associations in Chinese folk culture.
Kid riding on a giant fish
With such elements as kid, fish, and peaches, the paper cut expresses the Chinese people's wish for offsprings, prosperity, and longevity.
Phoenixes - Chinese paper cutsFolk tale of Wang Xiang Laying on Ice - Chinese paper cuts
Phoenixes are another totem of the Chinese. A pair of them is often drawn to signify the wish for harmony and blessing.
Folk tale of Wang Xiang Laying on Ice
Folk tales are also subjects of Chinese paper cutting arts. The story of Wang Xiang laying on ice in search of carps to cure his mother's illness is one of the twenty-four Chinese stories themed on filiel piety.


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