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Making the cut
观众在参观尺幅最大的作品《中华炎帝魂》_113468.jpg 观众用手机拍摄凤凰题材的剪纸作品_113466.jpg 观众在参观各种形式的蝴蝶造型剪纸作品_113469.jpg 观众在布置成山西当地窑洞民居形式的展厅观看剪纸作品_113467.jpg 以山西当地神话传说人物为题材的剪纸作品_113471.jpg
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  • Visitors take in the exhibition's largest work: The Soul of Emperor Yan. Also known as the Flame Emperor, Emperor Yan was a legendary Chinese ruler in pre-dynastic times
  • A visitor captures a paper cutting work centered on the Phoenix, or fenghuang in Chinese
  • Various forms of butterfly-shaped paper cuttings on display at the museum. In Chinese culture, a single butterfly brings you twice the blessing
  • Visitors take a closer look at paper cuttings arranged in the form of local Shanxi cave dwellings in an exhibition hall, with the window seen in this picture representing the upper part of a cave door. In certain areas of north China, cave dwellings still serve as homes for millions of people
  • A view of paper cuttings based on local myths and legends of Shanxi Province
  • 观众在参观尺幅最大的作品《中华炎帝魂》_113468.jpg
  • 观众用手机拍摄凤凰题材的剪纸作品_113466.jpg
  • 观众在参观各种形式的蝴蝶造型剪纸作品_113469.jpg
  • 观众在布置成山西当地窑洞民居形式的展厅观看剪纸作品_113467.jpg
  • 以山西当地神话传说人物为题材的剪纸作品_113471.jpg

The China National Arts and Crafts Museum (China Intangible Cultural Heritage Museum) in Beijing has regained its popularity since reopening to the public on January 1, simultaneously displaying three exhibitions—all free of charge.

Among these three, an exhibition of the paper cutting works of a seasoned artist from Shanxi Province in north China has proved particularly popular with Beijingers and visitors to the capital alike.

Named after Shanxi's famous Taihang Mountains, the ongoing Soul of Taihang exhibit displays the meticulous paper cuttings created by artist Zhang Yongzhong.

The style and motifs of this age-old Chinese art vary from region to region, reflecting distinctive local histories and folk cultures. The more than 400 works on display at the museum showcase the simpler paper cutting style found in China's northern region, especially in Shanxi.

According to art historians, the art dates back to the second century, when paper was invented by Cai Lun, a court official of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220). But long before said invention, the Chinese already used similar skills to make cut-outs on leaves, leather, silk and gold foil. Beginning in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), paper cutting began entering mainstream culture as a decorative art form during Chinese holidays.

The art was listed on UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009.

(Text and photos by Wei Yao)

Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon

Comments to weiyao@cicgamericas.com

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