China papercutting is a unique art, which may benefit from the fact that paper is invented by Chinese and dates back to ancient China. The people cut animals, flowers and figures in the paper with a pair of scissors or a knife mainly to decorate their doors and windows.Papercutting is also called window flower or cutting picture. Papercutting also has long history and represents strong national style and local features. It was mostly popular in Qing Dynasty and many skills were developed at that time. Some did drafts first and then made final cutting. Some did cutting by means of smoked paper.
Sometimes it is made by single color paper, sometimes by colored paper, both presents pictures vivid and natural. Various paper can be applied for papercutting. Outstanding crafters could even cut out different drawings freely by a pair of scissors without stop.
Though small piece of paper is, it can reflect many aspects of life like prosperous atmosphere, healthy persons and harvest year, etc. Some is even drawned from stories representing common goals and expects to happiness.
Archaeological finds trace the tradition back to the 6th century; it is supposed that the beginnings of paper cutting were even a few centuries earlier. Paper cuttings are used for religious purposes, for decoration and as patterns.
Today, papercuttings are chiefly used as decoration. They ornament walls, windows, doors, columns, mirrors, lamps and lanterns in homes and are also used for decoration on presents or are given as presents themselves.
They have special significance at festivals and on holidays. At the New Year's Festival for example, entrances are decorated with papercuttings which are supposed to bring good luck.Papercuttings used to be used as patterns, especially for embroidery and lacquer work.
There are two methods of manufacture: scissor cuttings and knife cuttings. As the name indicates, scissors cuttings are fashioned with scissors. Several pieces of paper--up to eight pieces--are fastened together. The motif is then cut with sharp, pointed scissors.
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 he usually holds vertically. The advantage of knife cuttings is that considerably more papercuttings can be made in one operation than with scissor cuttings.
In the countryside, papercuttings are usually made only by women and girls. This used to be one of the crafts that every girl was to master and that were often used to judge brides. Professional papercutting artists are, on the other hand, almost always men who have guaranteed incomes and work together in workshops.