The delicate art of Chinese papercuts is known throughout China and Western culture as well. Traditionally the craft is carried out by women working at home creating designs with folk, historical, cultural and decorative motifs. Often intricate in design, papercuts decorate the home for festivals and celebrations, especially at New Years. The ceremonial papercuts used in conjunction with Chinese religion, either as charms or fu in worshipping the deities take on a less refined quality, yet are quite beautiful, often with gold foil and cut and pasted colored papers.
Archeologists have unearthed in Turpan County, Xinjiang papercuts from tombs during the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589 A.D.) They were discovered along with funeral objects, mostly simulacrum of everyday items including paper shoes, hats and money paper. These round papercuts may be the paper version of bronze mirrors placed in tombs in earlier times.
Although some ritual papercuts are put on ones door for protection or to allow the soul of a dead person to come in, they will always be burned at a later time. Most ritual papercuts are also charms.
I've noticed, unlike the money papers with gold foil, these gold foiled charms are cut from an inexpensive machine made paper with no variation in texture or fiber. However, the style of the charm does vary with the artist, and one charm with the same blessing will have different design motifs - an additional flower or coin, or different sizes of red paper and gold foil.
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