Chinese Lunar Animals - Paper Cut Art
Chinese noblewomen began creating paper cut art during the Han dynasty (206 B.C. - 221 A.D.). To pass time, ladies of the court would cut pictures of flowers and animals from paper, a newly invented, delicate material. They used these precious paper decorations to brighten their hair and clothes. They also gave them to each other as gifts.
Over many centuries, as papermaking skills spread, girls throughout China learned to snip intricate pictures from paper. In addition to sewing and cooking, families expected girls to be able to decorate a home with paper cut art.
Today, paper cut art is still used as decoration, especially on windows and lanterns. It is given as gifts and used as embroidery patterns. If you visit China, look down at a lady's feet. You may find a paper cut flower pattern sewn onto a silk slipper.
Paper cut artists use small, sharp scissors, or a knife, to cut through the fragile paper. Each paper cut picture is unique, depending on the mood, skill and region of the artist.
Cut out your own paper cut animals by downloading these PDFs: