Paper-cutting master heralds Asian Games in artistic fans

The 90-year-old paper-cutting master Wu Shanzeng recently finished a series of fans themed on the 19th Asian Games, which will be held in Hangzhou in 2022, local media outlets reported.

The fans integrated Wu’s paper-cutting works on mascots, participating nations, and sports venues of the event. Local landmarks like West Lake, the Grand Canal, and the Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City were also incorporated within the fans’ backgrounds.

“Since the 19th Asian Games will be held in Hangzhou next year, I wanted to make some paper-cuttings to celebrate the sports gala, to record this civilized city, and also to express my excitement,” Wu said.

Despite his age, the paper-cutting master continues to create dynamic new works and has used his paper-cuttings to record big occasions like the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the Shanghai World Expo in 2010, as well as the Hangzhou China G20 Summit in 2016.

Wu follows a traditional way of making fans with paper-cuttings, which includes first designing background images, then shaping fiber paper into the images, and then sticking the paper and silk onto the frameworks of fans.

He has made 800 fans themed on the event. Some were gifted to friends during the Spring Festival holiday, while others were sold in bulk at cost prices.

“I feel fulfilled making all kinds of paper-cuttings every day,” Wu said.

FYI: Paper-cut is a very distinctive visual art of Chinese handicrafts. It originated from the 6th century when women used to paste golden and silver foil cuttings onto their hair at the temples, and men used them in sacred rituals. Later, they were used during festivals to decorate gates and windows. After hundreds of years’ development, now they have become a very popular means of decoration among country folk, especially women.

The main cutting tools are simple: paper and scissors or an engraving knife, but clever and deft craftspeople are remarkably good at cutting in the theme of daily life. When you look at items made in this method carefully, you will be amazed by the true to life expressions of the figure’s sentiment and appearance, or portrayal of natural plants and animals’ diverse gestures. Patterns of chrysanthemum display the curling petals, pied magpies show their tiny feathers and others such as a married daughter returning to her parents’ home, or young people paying a Chinese New Year call to their grandparents.

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