During the 21st century, the rapid economic growth brings people lots of benefit, at the same moment, modernization and urbanization also bring crisis to us, the great progress in the economy lead us to forget our traditional culture gradually, people tend to focus on making money. In other words, if people still doing nothing but making money, the traditional culture is no longer exist in the world.
In fact, there is lot of traditional folk arts in China, for example the Chinese paper cuts, they are made up with a piece of red paper which cut into complex design or pattern. Usually, people tend to use a knife or scissors to cut numerous papers at the same time because this can save time and produce large quantity of paper cuts at once. There is no doubt that Chinese paper cuts have an important role in the traditional Chinese culture as it consists of rich cultural value. Therefore, people have the responsibility to protect this kind of traditional culture otherwise our next generations may not have a chance to know about it. During this paper, it will focus on talking about different aspects. Firstly, it will focus on talking about the background of Chinese paper cut in different dynasties, second, it will discuss the techniques and the tool in creating paper cut, third, it will introduce different types and uses of paper cuts, forth, it will discuss about the spirit and meaning of the Chinese paper cuts. Lastly, it will compare the difference between Chinese paper cuts and Western paper cuts.
1.The background of Chinese paper cuts in different Dynasties Chinese paper cuts are very popular among the Chinese society, it has a close relationship with the customs. Since there is no restriction on the design, people are likely to cut the red paper according to their interests or wills. The origin of Chinese paper cuts can track back to the 6th century which is the Han Dynasty and this is also the period of invention of paper. In fact, before the invention of paper, people have started to cut different patterns on leather, gold, even the bark. In that period of time, paper cuts are used as the pattern for embroidered silk and under the changes of the dynasty, paper cuts are variable in different uses . During the Western Jin Dynasty, the Buddhism have an important role in the use of paper cuts, they are used to decorate the Buddha in the aims of attracting more followers and advocate their thought. At the same time, paper cuts are used as the ornaments of women and they cut the papers into different patterns such as butterfly or plants and put them on their head .
During Tang and Sung Dynasties, paper cuts have an alternative use, they become popular among the people and they are used as household decoration and the celebration of different festivals. Paper cuts in fact have a turning point during the Tang and Sung Dynasties, they become commodities during the society. People cut red papers in different design and sell them to others, as a result, paper cuts become a business for earning money and many people engage in this business .
During Yuan Dynasty, paper cuts have a close relationship with the custom activities and the drama (雜劇). People are likely to watch drama so that there are lots of dramas in that period of time. For instance, “The Romance of The West Chamber” (西廂記) is one of the drama in Yuan dynasty. People usually cut red paper into different characters with background according to the drama for different uses, they may sell them or use as decoration.
During Ming and Qing Dynasty, paper cuts become common among ordinary people, paper cuts are common to see in different festivals such as autumn festivals and drama. On the other hand, paper cuts are widely used in decorating the indoor part of the palace. The paper cuts designs include Dragon, Phoenix, and Bat, and these designs are used to decorate the ceilings of the hall and the walls of the corridors .
Up to now, paper cuts is losing its status in the society, people are unwilling to participate in the inheritance of paper cuts. People therefore have fewer opportunities to reach this kind of folk art but they still can find paper cuts at old places and some traditional buildings. Traditionally, women and girls in the countryside have to take in charge of making embroidery, let alone, the paper cuts. This is used to be a craft that every women must know how to do in their life. It even uses this craft to distinguish whether the bride is good or bad. Every year, they usually take part in the making embroidery after the harvest period, while they have spare time, they will start doing paper cuttings in order to do preparation for the coming year. These paper cuts are used to decorate the windows