Chinese Paper Cut

Chinese Paper Cut

Chinese Paper CutChinese Paper cut or Jianzhi is one of China’s most popular folk-arts. It originated from the 6th century, various paper objects and figures used to be buried with the dead or burned at the funeral ceremony.

Chinese Paper cuts, which were usually of symbolic character, were part of this ritual. After hundreds of years’ development, nowadays, Chinese paper cuts are very decorative. They can be pasted onto walls, windows, doors, columns, mirrors, lamps and lanterns in homes especially during the Spring Festival and wedding days. Entrances are decorated with paper cut is supposed to bring good luck.

Chinese Paper cutting stands out for its charm – exacting lines and ingenious patterns which are all hand-made.

It shows us the life expressions of the figure’s sentiment and appearance, or portrayal of natural plants and animals’ diverse gestures. Exaggeration and symmetry are the skills often used by these folk artists. Flowers are most common to see in the patterns.

paper_cut_3If you want to make a Chinese Paper cut, what you need are: paper and scissors or an engraving knife.

To make the three-dimensional scenes pop out visually from the paper, as they are usually in monochrome (especially red), engravers must exert their imagination. 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 is usually held vertically. Skilled crafters can even cut out different drawings freely without stopping.

paper_cut_4One of the basic methods of paper cutting is called positive image. It involves cutting around the design you wish to make cutting away all background paper leaving the design in tack thus you have a beautiful positive image.

Since there is a positive image it is only natural that there is a negative image. The negative image is the opposite of the positive image. That is you cut away from the lines and shapes of the design leaving the background in tact as one piece This method is especially well suited for dyeing.

The perfect Chinese paper cutting method is a combined positive and negative image. According to the design in some places you use the two methods above flexibly and thus you bring forth the special features of both methods in one perfect design.


Here are some places which are famous for Chinese Paper-cuts:

  • Yuxian in Hebei Province
  • Fengning Manchu Autonomous Region in Hebei Province
  • Zhongyang in Shanxi Province
  • Ansai in Shaanxi Province
  • Jinzhou city in Liaoning Province
  • Yangzhou in Jiangsu Province
  • Yueqing in Zhejiang Province
  • Foshan, Shantou, Chaozhou(all in Guangdong Province)
  • Luxi City in Yunnan Province

Nowadays, more and more fashion elements combine with traditional Chinese paper cuts. As the photos below shows a paper cut of Obama on one of the street as well as paper cut-inspired dress.



剪纸  Jiǎn zhǐ   paper cut

巧妙的图案  qiǎo miào dē tú àn   Ingenious patterns

手工制作  Shǒu gōng zhì zuò   hand-made

立体  lì tǐ   3-dimensional

正象  zhèng xiàng   Positive image

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