The origin, classification and evolution of Chinese paper cutting

Huang, Yu-Chun, The origin, classification and evolution of Chinese paper cutting. PhD thesis, University of Leeds, 2014.


The subject dealt with in this thesis relates to the holistic understanding of the development of a traditional folk art: the art of paper cutting. This artistic tradition originated in China and features intricate and hollow style imagery, used to convey cultural symbolism and infer auspicious wishes. Since the inception of the art, numerous diverse styles of paper cutting art have been evolved across the regions of China. With the renewed interest in the cultural creative industry over recent years, the significance and value of the traditional art in China has been revaluated and explored. Paper cutting art has been examined in a number of areas within China, however, a valid analytic and multi-faceted study had yet to be developed. This limited the academic community, museum professionals and practitioners from obtaining an empirical-based understanding of the explanation for variables in styles and measures of innovation. Consequently, research drawing on the holistic nature of the development of the art is of considerable theoretical and practical interest to these communities. To address the problem of the differing styles of paper cutting and drivers of innovation across the regions of China, a qualitative research design was employed. A review of the historical development of paper cutting art was followed by visual analysis and qualitative interviews to determine the explanations for variables in styles, wider cultural influences and the innovation and application in modern design. A taxonomy of the primary factors influencing the recent developments of the paper cutting art is presented and a theoretical framework provides a holistic explanation of the interconnected and interrelated drivers acting on the artist and artistic community.

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Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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