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Cutting out Jinhua’s Story
Post Time:05/07/2017 Browse Number:

         In the quiet and peaceful atmosphere of the Jinhua Paper Cutting Museum, Zhan Dongming demonstrates the art of paper cutting to a group of tourists from Jiaxing, Zhejiang. Scissors a make few moves, scraps fall, and within less than a minute, a red sheet of paper turns into eight roosters. Some tourists applaud; some give a thumbs up. This museum is located in Jinhua City, 50 North Dongshi Street. Zhan Dongming is a director, senior artist, and craftsman of the museum. He is also a master of arts and crafts of Zhejiang Province, and a representative inheritor of the intangible cultural heritage of Jinhua paper cutting.

         The Jinhua Paper Cutting Museum has collected over 3,000 works from different parts of China. The earliest works were created at the end of the Qing Dynasty. A piece of good paper cutting work has to go through the process of selecting theme and material, making a creative drawing, cutting, mounting, and other basic steps. Once the drawing is done, it has to be cut out, which is the most difficult and time-consuming part. At the moment, Zhan Dongming is the only person in Jinhua who specifically specializes in paper cutting because, as he says, “it’s not easy to make a living from cutting paper.”

         In 2013, Zhan Dongming started collecting Jinhua West local folk materials. It took him six months to complete “The Jinhua West Folk Culture Series.” The art work received a special award in the third session of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition of Zhejiang Province. Twenty-seven works of Zhan Dongming were inspired by the legend of Wong Tai Sin, and put into “The Legend of Wong Tai Sin” series.

         In 2009, Chinese paper cutting was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the Fourth Session of the Intergovernmental Committee. However, in the past ten years, Chinese paper cutting, like many other traditional arts, has gradually declined in popularity as a result of the development of modern industry.

  In 2011, Zhan Dongming made a financial contribution toward the opening of the Jinhua Paper Cutting Museum. In this way, he hopes to demonstrate, protect, rescue, promote, and study the prosperity and development of local paper cutting art. Every year more than 60,000 visitors come to the museum. It is especially busy during weekends and public holidays. The Jinhua Paper Cutting Museum not only promotes and exhibits the   While discussing the inheritance of paper cutting skills, Zhan Dongming said, “To practice the paper cutting art, one should be able to sit without moving for many hours. It’s a very tiring process. There are many people who are interested in paper cutting, but not many of them can pursue it.” He has more than 10 apprentices working with him now. Paper cutting requires a lot of energy, while not making a lot of money. It is hard to support yourself by paper cutting alone. For this reason, Zhan Dongming has no aspiring full-time successors among his apprentices. (By Chen Liyuan, translated by Nataliia Litvinova, edited by Kendra Fiddler)

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