The Chinese art of paper cutting

S Maison at the Conrad welcomed the Year of the Rooster with the Jianzhi - the Chinese Art of Paper Cutting exhibit at the mall’s atrium, in a program highlighted by traditional lion and dragon dances. A joint project of S Maison and Association for Philippines-China Understanding, the exhibit gives mallgoers the rare opportunity to view these elegant and exquisite art works up close.

Traditional lion and dragon dances welcome the Year of the Rooster at S Maison at the Conrad

Paper cutting or jianzhi is one of the oldest and most popular folk arts in China. Symbolizing luck and prosperity, the artworks are usually made of red paper, and used on celebrations like the Spring Festival, weddings, childbirth, and the New Year.

The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China Culture Officer Jiang Haitao, the Association for Philippines-China Understanding (APCU) President Dr. Gabriel Lopez, and Chairman Jesus Cham shared honors during the launching of the ‘Jianzhi – the Chinese Art of Paper Cutting’ exhibit. Joining them are floral architect Rachy Cuna, Atty. Josie Joya-Baldovino, SM Supermalls AVP for Operations Premiere 3 Perkin So, and SM Senior Vice President for Marketing Communications Group Millie Dizon. 

The art of paper cutting may date back to the second century CE since paper was invented by Cai Lun in the Eastern Han Dynasty in China. As paper became more affordable, paper cutting became one of the most important types of Chinese folk art.

This exquisite paper celebrates the Year of the Rooster

The art of paper cutting in China can be geographically divided into a northern and southern style. The southern style, represented by the works of Yangzhou in Jiangsu Province and Leqing in Zhejiang Province, features ingenious and beautiful designs, exquisite carvings, and interesting shapes. The northern style, on the other hand, mainly from Yuxian and Fengning in Hebei province, highlights exaggerated shapes, vigorousness, vivid depictions, and diverse patterns.

Fu Koi Fish, a feng shui symbol for abundance
Yin Yang Dragon 

During the Tang Dynasty, the skills of this handcraft became more mature, becoming more like a work of art. In the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1912), folk paper cutting reached its peak development in both range and artistry. Paper cuts were part of a leisure activity especially among women, who passed on this traditional art style to their children, and were used to decorate doors, windows, and walls as a symbol of happiness and celebration.

Delicate Chinese woman paper cut 
Hand painted Chinese paper cut of bird

Chinese paper cut continues to thrive to this day. It recently received worldwide recognition of the highest prestige, with inclusion in the representative list of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The values, ideals, and aesthetic pursuits of Chinese people from different ethnic backgrounds are embedded and preserved in the imagery that paper-cuts depict, conveying the elements of folk legends, literature and history. 

The art form has spread to other parts of the world, with different regions adopting their own cultural styles including the Philippines. 

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