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Cultural Heritage / Trip Ideas

Paper cutting in Changbai Mountain

By Jocelyn Yi

April 14

Paper cutting in Changbai Mountain is an important form of Manchu folk art, a kind of traditional culture reflecting their ancestors’ livelihood.

Paper cutting in Changbai Mountain is an important form of Manchu folk art, a kind of traditional culture reflecting their ancestors’ livelihood.

Paper cutting is an important form of folk art for the Manchu (a minority group in northern China) living in Changbai Mountain. It is a kind of traditional culture reflecting their ancestors’ livelihood.

Before the existence of paper, the Manchu had formed their own way of “paper cutting,” which was derived from hunting and farming, with cutting materials from hides, fish skin, birch bark and leaves to capsicum skin and linen.
Paper cutting in Changbai Mountain began in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Designs were based on a wide variety of unique subjects, mainly portraying people, animals and folk customs. And the works can be divided into 6 groups including ancestral mythology, gods worship, Shaman worship, legends, traditional customs and depictions of everyday life.
This traditional technique was closely related to daily life, covering styles as cloth cutting, toy cutting and wall paintings cutting. Cloth cutting was mainly used in dress and hanging decorations, which was durable and convenient for cleaning; toy cutting first came from children’s toys, and then gradually developed into daily necessities. To decorate the walls and windows with cutting paper was a traditional custom for the Manchu to celebrate New Year, with the representative ornamentation being ‘Mo Mo’ (Goddess in Manchu faith), turtles, frogs and deer.
Manchu paper cutting was distinctive from that of the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) due to its unique material, skill, the theme of worship and aesthetics. The cuttings have earned the reputation of “living fossils” of Manchu culture.

An image of a Mo Mo [Image Credit: Jilin Daily]
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