The beauty of paper-cutting

Writer: Liu Xudong, Nan Nan  | Editor: Doria Nan  | From: Shenzhen Daily | Updated: 2018-03-22



Tiny red-handled scissors snipping away, red paper gliding expertly between fingers, and scraps of red paper drifting down... In less than one minute, four chubby “lucky babies” appeared between the spaces cut out in the decorative paper. Tian Xing laughs, “This is really easy and suitable for beginners.”


Paper-cutting is a folk craft that uses scissors or an engraving knife to cut patterns from paper for decoration for daily use and traditional occasions.



Tian is a representative inheritor of this intangible cultural heritage item in Shenzhen. Her paper-cutting works are rich in subject matter and grand in size. Along with the theme “folk customs and legendary stories,” these works express her love for life. Her huge paper-cutting work entitled “Customs of Marriage in Northwest China” is about 28 meters in length and 1.5 meters in width, and shows the whole wedding process typical to Northwest China.



Tian was born in Yijun County, Shaanxi Province, the cradle of Yijun-style paper-cutting. Tian’s mother and sister were who first influenced her on paper-cutting. As far back as she can remember, paper-cutting has been an essential decoration for adorning homes during festivals and marriage ceremonies.



Tian was hired by Shenzhen Splendid China Folk Culture Village in 1991. She settled in Shenzhen ever since, displaying her paper-cutting to visitors and passing on the craft. She invented a paper-cutting technique which uses both hands to for the cutting process.



Paper-cutting has also brought a spotlight to Tian. She has been awarded the title “Folk arts and crafts artist” by UNESCO and the Chinese Association of Folk Literature and Art. She is a member of the Chinese Folk Literature and Art Association. She was recognized as a master of folk art by Shenzhen Federation of Literary and Art Circles. Tian’s paper-cutting has been included in the representative items of intangible cultural heritage in Guangdong Province.



Today, Tian focuses on teaching paper-cutting and she hopes more young people will master this art.