Paper-cuts of Yangzhou
The primary use of paper-cut in Yangzhou was template for embroidery. A full-scaled pattern was transferred onto a sheet of white rice paper and then cut accordingly. The scissor work was dampened and pasted on a satin sheet that had been set up on a slate frame. A needlewoman would knit stitches over the scissor work till the entire pattern was covered with stitches.
Situated along both sides of the lower reach of the Grand Canal, for many centuries Yangzhou was the country's economic center and the home of the richest businessmen. "I'll go to Yangzhou with dignity once I'm a millionaire," as one poet admired. Affluence and wealth afforded people comfortable house, beautiful garden, delicious food and, above all, finely embroidered articles. Embroidery was fashionable till last century when it was replaced by printed silk.
The most often encountered patterns are flowers, and popular flowers are crab-apple blossom, herbaceous peony and chrysanthemum. Yangzhou has been famous for its flowers. Throughout the history, many literary works devoted to their beauty. It is said that the Grand Canal was excavated to spare an emperor from the hardships of land travel when he wanted to come and see blossoms in the spring.
Paper-cutting in Yangzhou was a profession, which yielded superb craftsmanship. "In the past someone could cut characters of old masters in sleeves. Nowadays someone in Yangzhou cut pictures in the same way, achieving mastership on anything - landscape, flower, figure, or whatever," amazed an art critic in feudal times. Modern representative is a family whose past four generations lived by cutting templates. Grape pattern, one of their signature works, for example, was so realistically crafted even hair-thin curling tendrils were remarkably true to life.Back to paper cut
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