Folk artist devoted to paper-cutting
Han Yuehu, an intangible cultural heritage inheritor of paper-cutting in Yantai, presents his work featuring the Chinese character "fu", which means blessing. [Photo/jiaodong.net]
At a paper-cutting studio in Fushan district, Yantai, East China's Shandong province, Han Yuehu, an intangible cultural heritage inheritor, is busy creating paper-cuts featuring dogs, this year's zodiac sign.
Humming to himself merry little ballads about dogs, Han finishes a lifelike dog silhouette in a very short time. Besides the 12 zodiac animals, Han's work features many other elements with auspicious implications.
For instance, he makes paper-cuts featuring the Eight Immortals for parents, a group of legendary figures in Chinese mythology, which symbolize good health. For the elderly, Han creates works with elements of cats and butterflies, which imply longevity. For families with girls, elements with flowers and characters from operas are preferred as parents wish them to become more and more beautiful.
The craft of making paper-cuts was handed down from his mother, Han said, adding that at the age of 14, he could already make beautiful paper-cuts at a neck and neck pace with his mother.
His passion for paper-cuts has lasted for about 50 years. In that time he has created more than 10,000 sets of works based on the 67,000 folk paper-cuts in his collection. While being an inheritor of traditional crafts, the paper-cutting master also seeks innovation and makes many new figures.
On the winter solstice in early times, skilled housewives would sit on "kang", a heatable brick bed in North China, and make paper-cuts for window decoration. Today, paper-cuts have grown into an art form. Besides decorating windows on important festive occasions, they have also been framed for better appreciation.
Paper-cutting originates from life and serves as an encyclopedia for folk culture, according to Han. They can be divided into many categories based on the occasions for which they are used, such as festivals and weddings. At important festivals such as Spring Festival, people often make paper-cuts to pray for good luck.
Besides inheriting the traditional craft, Han is also engaged in promoting it. He serves as a visiting professor at Ludong University in Yantai. He also teaches primary school students to make simple paper-cuts and introduces them to related culture.