Paper cutting is a long-standin decorative folk art in China. The cutter first draws the designs on a piece of paper and then cuts it out with scissors or a knife. In the countryside, paper cuts are often stuck on windows and doors as auspicious and joyful decorations to mark festival and happy occasions. Often decorative patterns like beby, gourd, lots, etc. can be used to symbolize plenty of offspring and plenty of blessings. As a type of folk art, paper cutting evinces distinctive local features: unpretentious and uninhibited as in Shaanxi; graceful and fine as in Hebei ; resplendent and orderly as in Sichuan; exquisite and pleasing as in Jiangsu. Paper cuts are also used for decorating gifts or as a gift itself.
There are two chief crafts in preparing paper cutting, the scissor-cutting approach and the knife-cutting approach. Just as the terms suggest, with the scissor-cutting approach, the scissors are sued as tool. Component parts of a pattern are cut at first and paste into a whole, an then clip the pattern with sharp scissors to make a fine finish. By knife-cutting approach a paper is folded into several layers, which is placed on a soft mixture of ash and animal fat, and then cut carefully with a small knife. In comparison with scissor cutting, knife cutting can have more patterns cut at one time.
With reference to the skills, paper cutting falls into cut-in-relief, intaglio and mixed carving. The relief cutting process is
a development of traditional Chinese linear pattern tracing approach. Works done using such approach are extraordinary exquisite with the lines cut as fine as hair. By intaglio the images appear more dignified and unaffected with bright spots or white lines incised into dark surface. The mixed carving suing relief cutting an incised into dark surface. The mixed carving using relief cutting and incised cutting alternatively, further enriched paper-cut manifestation. With respect to coloring, there are multicolor cutting, dyeing cutting and golden color cutting. By multicolor cutting, more than two polychrome sheets are put together to form a pattern before cutting. By dyeing cutting, dyeing liquid is dripped onto finished paper-cuts. The permeability of water can make the different colors seeping into each other without being confused, thus producing a bright and gorgeous effect. By golden color cutting, patterns are cut using golden paper and then set off with all sorts of colored paper so as to appeat resplendent and magnificent, suitable for festival decoration.