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读张道一《中国剪纸艺术》(Chapter 2, upper)

(2011-06-25 23:19:18)


分类: 读书笔记

Chapter 2 Pattern and Style



The folk craft of papercutting is one of the many popular art forms...Walking through a northern village where each and every household shines with colourful window ornaments on the clean white paper covering the windows, one has the sense that this not merely a means of beautifying the peasants’ living environment, it is a window into their lives.



In any discussion of papercutting we cannot forget the great French artist Henri Matisse (1869-1954), who devoted the later years of his career to the art of papercuts, creating innumerable brightly coloured works. Matisse believed that a pair of scissors could be more adroit than a pencil, that cutting directly out of coloured paper was like being a sculptor carving directly into stone. Because the material for papercutting was cheap and easy to obtain, Matisse called this craft “the one-cent toy”, not at all disparagingly, for Matisse felt he had found the “supremely handy” method for painting in one connected movement. From this we can see that the value of a work of art is decided not by the price of the materials used or the intricacy of the workmanship, but by the feeling of life which a piece of work embodies.



There are two possible ways to deal with the spaces in a papercut: the first is called “connected lines” and the second, “discreet lines”. We see here what is unique to papercuts. The former kind of line has also been called “positive cutting”, the latter, “negative cutting”. Needless to say, a single papercut can use either of these methods or both simultaneously.






读张道一《中国剪纸艺术》(Chapter <wbr>2, <wbr>upper)

A large Variety of Design

Designs of papercuts can be devided into four categories:



1.The First category 第一类  室内装饰

The first includes those papercuts meant for decorative effect which are pasted directly on windows, walls, lanterns and paper sculptures, such as window ornaments, wall ornaments, ceiling ornaments, smoke vents, lantern ornaments and door hangings.



1.1   Window Ornament 窗花

The windows of peasant houses in the north of China are designed with vertical and horizontal strips of wood, making various geometric designs; on top of this is pasted a layer of “skin paper” (the paper is treated with tong oil which gives it the illusion of transparency and makes it last longer). Every Spring Festival each famialy changes the paper on their windows, and covers the new white paper with colourful papercuts. … There are no limits to the choice of theme or shape: animal, flowers or people, and sets of cuts telling story of a play or a folk tale are all common.


读张道一《中国剪纸艺术》(Chapter <wbr>2, <wbr>upper)
Butterfly – a window corner ornament   蝴蝶——窗角装饰


1.2   Wall Ornament 墙花

In general, there are two kinds of wall ornaments. The first is pasted on the walls closest to the bed, or in the north of China where the peasants sleep on kang (platform beds), pasted all around the kang. Sometimes they are pasted alongside folk woodblock New Year prints. A second type is pasted on the kichen stove, and called “stove ornaments”... The flowers pasted around a kang usually tell a story with a plot so that one can “read” it as one is lying on the kang. Stove ornaments usually are good-luck characters such as “May the harvest be plentiful” or “May you have more than enough every year”. The fishermen of the coastal towns of Fujian Province also cut the proverb “May the wind and the sea be with you”.



读张道一《中国剪纸艺术》(Chapter <wbr>2, <wbr>upper)

A round ceiling ornament   天花板团花装饰


1.3 Door Hangings 门签

Door hangings looks like a cut out silk flag, with a wide head, which is attached to the beams or over the door, and a row of tassels on the bottom. They usually follow neat geometric designs or good-luck patterns, and often incorporate good-luck characters into them like “Best wishes for fortune and long life”, “A model family”, “Work hard for the Four Modernizations” or “Farm scientifically”. These are either cut out of a single hanging, or made form four hangings put together, each with one character. Most hangings are red, although there is no limit to the possibilities for design and colour.


读张道一《中国剪纸艺术》(Chapter <wbr>2, <wbr>upper)

Door hangings门签


1.4   Lantern Ornaments灯花

Before the widespread use of electric lights the traditional forms of household lighting were the candle lantern and the oil lantern. The cage of the lantern blocks the wind, and enables the lantern to be carried in the hand. There are two types of these lanterns: the first kind is square in shape covered with gauze, or shaped like a basket or like two tile pieces joined together commonly used in daily life and for weddings and other celebrations; the other kind is used for traditional holidays, and come in every size and variety – geometrically shaped or as flowers or animals. According to the traditional lunar calendar, the fifteenth of the first month is called the Lantern Festival. On that night, every family hangs its lanterns out in front of its door, while larger lanterns are displayed in the square or public gathering place. Each child carries a small lantern in his or her hands and the holidays become a combination of an exhibition and a competition.


读张道一《中国剪纸艺术》(Chapter <wbr>2, <wbr>upper)

There are two outstanding forms of papercuts used to decorate these lanterns. The first is called “walking horse” lantern and the second is called “gauze lanterns”. The “walking horse” lantern works on the principle of a gas turbine, and appeared as early as the Song Dynasty. The cut figures are attached to a sort of vane which is moved by the rising hot air currents caused by the flame. “Gauze” lanterns are made by placing a papercut in between two pieces of gauze which make up the covering for the lantern cage.



2. The Second Category 第二类  礼品花

The second includes those papercuts designed to line and decorate gifts, doweries and sacrificial offerings, such as happiness ornaments, gift ornaments, candlestick ornaments, incense burner ornaments and the Double Ninth flags for the festival on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month.



2.1 Offering Ornaments 祭神剪纸

In old China when people adhered to the traditions and ceremonies honouring the gods and ancestors, these papercuts were used to decorate ceremonial offerings. ..The most characteristic of thses offering ornaments are what are called “pig’s head” ornaments. The outline is in the shape of a pig’s head, and inside various patterns of good luck are designed in the pig’s eyes and nose.


读张道一《中国剪纸艺术》(Chapter <wbr>2, <wbr>upper)

An offering ornament in the shape of a pig’s head   剪纸祭品:猪头与双喜


2.2 Gift Ornaments 礼品花

In the countryside, wherever an old person has a birthday, a new couple has a baby, or a friend or relative comes to visit, people always bring gifts, people always bring gifts such as cake, “long-life” noodles, or eggs, and usually these gifts are decorated with some sort of papercut. In the Chaozhou area of Guangzhou, these are called “cake ornament”…Up to 1950s the peasants in Fujian Province still preserved an ancient tradition which said that when giving gifts one should use the shapes of a tortoise to symbolize long life; tortoise-shaped cakes decorated with tortoise-shaped papercut.


读张道一《中国剪纸艺术》(Chapter <wbr>2, <wbr>upper) 蛋糕花饰


2.3 Double Ninth Flags 九九重阳旗

In folk traditions, the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, is a festival day. The weather is cool and crisp, and people all go out to walk in the autumn air and climb to the top of hills or mountains. To celebrate the festival there is a kind of triangular coloured streamer which children can play. These “Double Ninth Flags” are often cut out or dyed with the patterns of dragons or tigers.



3. The Third Category 第三类  绣花样板

The third is used as stencils for embroidering clothes, hats, shoes, pillow cases, bibs, sleeve embroidery and backbags.



3.1 Shoe Decorations 鞋花

This type of papercut is used as a kind of stencil base for embroidering shoes. The patterns of shoe decorations are usually clean and symmetrical, and sometimes are separeated without leaving a space to serve as an indicator for embroiders to change the colour of the thread. At least two categories of shoe decorations can be seen, one is “toe flowers”, and another is “saddle flower” .


读张道一《中国剪纸艺术》(Chapter <wbr>2, <wbr>upper)马鞍形鞋花


4.The Fouth Category 第四类 蓝印花布

The fourth is used as a stencil for indigo prints, which are used for clothing, quilt covers, door and window curtains, cloth wrappers, aprons and scarfs.



4.1 Indigo Prints 蓝印

This is a technique using indigo dye to make designs on fabric. Cut the oiled paper into a pattern and then with a mixture of lime, starch and water make a dye-preventing agent, cover the material and immerse it in the dye, and then dry it in the air. When it is dry the dye-preventative can be scraped off to reveal white patterns on a blue backgound. Most of the paper stencils for dyeing use negative lines.



A Distinctive Style


The style of Chinese folk papercutting is directly connected to its unique artistic vocabulary. The naivete of the forms, the force of the designs, the brightness of the colours and the restrictions on the tools material used all reflect the working people’s ingenuity and desire for beautiful surroundings.

The 6,300-kilometre Yangtze River divides China into north and south. Northern papercuts are characteristically “simple and vigorous” while southern papercuts are “ingenious and refined”…Large or minute, coarse or delicate, exaggerated or realistic, plain or gaudy, each expresses something different from out of the lives of the creators.



1.       Large and minute大小

2.  Coarse and Refined 粗犷与细腻

读张道一《中国剪纸艺术》(Chapter <wbr>2, <wbr>upper)     读张道一《中国剪纸艺术》(Chapter <wbr>2, <wbr>upper)

3.   Exaggeration and Realism 夸张与真实

读张道一《中国剪纸艺术》(Chapter <wbr>2, <wbr>upper)    读张道一《中国剪纸艺术》(Chapter <wbr>2, <wbr>upper)


4.Plainness and Gaudiness 平实与华丽

读张道一《中国剪纸艺术》(Chapter <wbr>2, <wbr>upper)   读张道一《中国剪纸艺术》(Chapter <wbr>2, <wbr>upper)



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