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Paper-cut is a very distinctive visual art of traditional Chinese handicrafts. According to the archeological findings, it had appeared in the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589AD). Paper-cut saw its great development during the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD). Even in royal families ladies were judged by the ability at paper-cut during that period. Professional paper-cutting craftsmen appeared as early as the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279).
The initiation and spread of paper-cuts had a close relationship with Chinese rural festivals. People pasted paper-cuts on walls, windows and doors at wedding ceremonies or festivals to enhance the festive atmosphere. Paper-cuts can also serve as presents or as decorations on gifts and sacrificial offerings to the ancestors or gods.

Dragon with Phenix Paper Cut figure Paper Cut Flower Paper Cut Animal Paper Cut
Dragon with Phenix Paper Cut
Figure Paper Cut
Flower Paper Cut
Animal Paper Cut

Paper-cut techniques
The main cutting tools are simple: paper and scissors or an engraving knife, but clever and deft craftspeople are remarkably good at cutting in the theme of daily life. Although other art forms, like painting, can also show similar scenes, paper cutting still stands out for its charm - exacting lines and ingenious patterns which are all hand-made. To make the three-dimensional scenes pop out visually from the paper, as they are usually in monochrome, craftsmen 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. When cutting, one must grasp the knife in an upright fashion and press evenly on the paper with some strength. Flexibility is required but any hesitation or wiggling will lead to imprecision or damage the whole image. Craftsmen stress the cutting lines in several styles. They attempt to carve a circle like the moon, a straight line like a stem of wheat, a square like a brick, and jaggedly like the beard.
Paper-cut themes
No doubt that art came from life and serve life, so did the paper-cut. Chinese paper-cuts are rich in content. The auspicious designs symbolize good luck and the avoidance of evil. The child, lotus and bottle gourd designs suggest a family with a large number of children and grandchildren. Domestic birds, livestock, fruit, fish and worms are also familiar objects depicted by Chinese farmers. There are some special paper-cuts of traditional design used as patterns for embroidering clothes, shoes, hats, pillows, bed curtains and door curtains. People find hope and comfort in expressing wishes with paper cuttings. For example: for a wedding ceremony, red paper cuttings are a traditional and required decoration on the tea set, the dressing table glass, and on other furniture. A big red paper character 'Xi' (happiness) is a traditional must on the newlywed's door. 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. The art forms are mainly used as decorations and patterns for religious and ornamental purposes.
Paper-cuts made in different areas have different characteristics. Paper-cuts made in northern part of China are robust and energetic. Paper-cuts made from the southern part of china are delicate and bright.

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