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Chinese Paper Cutting

by Sherry Li

Chinese paper cutting in Chinese is “剪纸“ (jian zhi) and it’s an essential part of Chinese culture. It is a common decoration for many occasions in China including marriages, Lunar New Year, birthdays, and other activities. It’s often a hobby and even kids can do it as a craft for fun.

Common Designs

One of the most common designs is the “双喜“ (shuang xi), such as the design on the right, which translates to “double happiness”. The symmetrical shape of the design makes it appealing and looks organized. Adding on, there’s the idiom “双喜临门” (shuang xi lin men) which means multiple good events happening one after the other. It’s a great blessing that can be used in any situation.

Another common theme in Chinese paper cutting is Chinese zodiac animals. As can be seen from the left, there are multiple intricate designs that can be used on Lunar New Year and other occasions like birthdays. It requires skills and practice to do well.


Chinese paper cutting was invented in the 3rd century BC, during the Spring and Autumn Period. In that period, people used a material made by techniques of hollow carved crafts before paper existed. The Han Dynasty invented the paper which prompted the further development of paper cutting popularization. Chinese paper cut works were first discovered in 1967 by archaeologists in the Turpan Basin, Gaochang Ruins near the Northern ancient tombs in Astana. Even today, Chinese paper cutting is still popular and can be seen everywhere such as on windows, doors, and on the walls.


Some common materials used are red paper, but any color paper is fine (red paper is suggested). Scissors or precision knife to cut the paper so that it’s neat. Precision knives have a better effect and look much neater. Lastly, a YouTube tutorial or some sort of instruction. Cutting something easy such as a snowflake is a good place to start. With more practice, making more intricate designs such as the ones in the pictures is definitely possible!

Image links:

  1. http://sc.sina.com.cn/art/yxdg/2017-07-27/details-ifyinvyk1354385.shtml
  2. http://www.hua10.com/Public/wh/jzys/6.htm
  3. https://world.taobao.com/item/659426582339.htm
  4. http://pic.5tu.cn/vector/201011/xinzuo30732.html
  5. https://baike.baidu.com/item/剪纸艺术/807553
  6. http://www.sinobuy.cn/ask/38796.html

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