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Paper-cutting: Shanxi's amazing folk art

By Liang Liang | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2016-11-08 15:10

Located in the northeast frontier of Shanxi Province, Guangling county in Datong city covers an area of 1,283 square kilometers. It is in this small town that China's world-famous paper-cuttings originated.

Chinese paper-cutting demonstrates the principles of Chinese aesthetics, showing conceptions of the universe and life. The "Shanxi in the eyes of foreigners" tour brought us to the Paper-cutting Museum to experience the folk art up close.

According to the museum guide, paper-cutting portrays the essence of Chinese society in the colorful folk craft. Simple opera and folk customs are some of the main themes of Guangling paper-cuttings. Because of its bright colors, vivid portrayals and advanced cutting techniques, it has been listed in the catalogue of nationally protected non-material cultural heritage.

A wide variety of paper-cuttings grace the art gallery, depicting marriage customs, praying for life, characters, magnificent mountains and other subjects. Once we entered the museum, we were attracted by all kinds of paper-cutting, taking photos and asking the exhibition guide about the details of the works.

Maria Papaioannou, a language teacher from Britain, said, "For the first time in my life I knew that scraps of paper can be cut into such beautiful designs. This could be a great source of revenue and a rich industry. That's so surprising for me. I love the paper-cutting works here."

Ted Mason, a superior education advisor, also from Britain, told the journalist that he is very interested in the Chinese dragon. Seeing so many lifelike dragon paper-cuttings here, he liked them very much. When he left, Ted bought the black paper-cutting depicting nine dragons. He was very satisfied with his purchase.

In the paper-cutting factory, everyone concentrated fully on the production process. When we heard the workers making the paper-cuttings were local farmers, and that they worked beyond the growing season, we were shocked. The ingenuity of the Chinese people and profundity of Chinese culture left us with a deep impression.

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