Paper cutting is a type of craft aged hundreds of years, but it is still very popular today. The following brief description will generalize somewhat about the development and history of this art.


History of paper

Before the invention of paper, man has recorded the documents which are figures drawn in the caves or carved on clay tablets, and then in next period people used leather, carpentry to store the document. Since the Chinese invented paper in 105, paper began to be widely used in China, and until year 750, new paper production techniques spreaded to Samarkand through Chinese prisoners in a border dispute. Paper was brought to Europe from the 12th century through the cultural exchange between Western Christianity and Eastern Arabs as well as through Spain in Islamic periods.


Paper Cutting Art


With the introduction of paper, paper cutting art has appeared almost the same time. Soon it became very popular in China, especially in the Song Dynasty (960-1279). The first artist is perhaps the members serving in the court; paper cutting has quickly spread and become a folk art, it was used bu Chinese for various reasons such as decoration for homes, lanterns, festivals, etc. The patterns made from paper are also used as decoration for sedan chairs, boxes, chests, and disk). The model for the Chinese paper cutting is mainly taken from Chinese mythology. Tissue paper (a very thin paper) and parchment are often used for this art.



Follow the footsteps of merchants via the Silk Road, Chinese paper cutting art first came to Austria under the gift to the king in the 15th century and later spread throughout Europe. After being “exported” to Europe, it has become a popular traditional culture, especially in Germany, Poland, Netherlands, Switzerland and some other countries. The initial work is often “palm-sized” and include small landscapes and decorative floral motifs; paper cutting pattern at that time is often used to decorate the interior because it is cheaper than the traditional carvings. In 16-17th century, paper cutting art began to spread out and its name is different depending on the country.

In Poland (wycinanki) paper cutting peaked between 1840 and the start of World War I. The colorful works made with sheep shears. Even today Polish paper cutting is still made with raw sheep shears and mainly for home wall decoration. Most works have the shape of a wheel or square, roosters and hens, the fairy tale in which a number of common motifs. Some artists often use colors in their designs using multiple sheets of paper glued to each other.


In German, paper cutting called Scherenschnitte. Scherenschnitte appeared in Germany in the 16th century and today remains a popular art in the German culture. The work is often inspired by the Bible, the poem, the romance story…

Papercutting art in the United States began with German immigrants in Pennsylvania, as well as others who have taken their craft to the US from Europe. Although this at has never attract large number of participants in the past, recently it has been a revival by paper cutting enthusiasts and collectors who are looking for ancient works .The paper cut Papercutters Guild of America (GAP – www.papercutters. org), is an association of the largest paper-cutting artist in USA with hundreds of members around the world. GAP members includes from amateurs to professionals, and from the beginners to the true artists. There are even a number of participants who do not not cut paper, but only engage in the collection to study tradition papercutting. There is no requirement for members. Everyone is encouraged to start with the talent they have, and develop skills and their art as part of a paper cutting community.



Paper cutting in Mexico called Papel Picado, or “perforated paper” and originated in ancient Mexico. The Aztecs used berries and bark to make a rough form of paper, called ‘Amatl.’ In Mexico, during the mid-1800s, people had to purchase goods from “Hacienda” (a type of form as the subsidized sales in Vietnam) and here they begin to access the paper from China. In recent years, tissue paper has become primarily paper used for Papel Picado. Artisans will create 40 to 50 layers of different colors sheet of paper silmutaneously and they use fierritos (looks like the skew for kebab skewers), or opaque. When completed, the work is hanged on the wire to make long banners used for weddings, religious festivals, and other special events. Designs include birds, flowers, and animals. Skeleton is also used to celebrate the “Day of the Dead,” a special celebration in Mexico.


Papercutting art has become part of many different cultures, including Jews. Traditional paper cutting of the Jews has been used for people to decorate ketubahs (contract prenuptial agreement. It is considered part of traditional Jewish marriage, Ketubahs outlines the rights and the groom’s responsibility, in relation to the bride) and holidays (Shabbat Mitzvah, and Passover, etc.); and is hanged appreciatedly as works of art in the homes of the Jews.



silhouette is the image of a person, animal, object or scene represented as a solid shape of a single colour, usually black, its edges matching the outline of the subject. It is a form of paper cutting. The first silhouette in Germany has been made about 1631. For the first time, the shadow of your loved ones have been preserved. It reflects the desire to capture portraits of people using a simple paper cut.


A silhouette portrait can be painted or drawn. However, traditional methods of creating portrait silhouette is cut from black cardboard light, and mount them on a light background (usually white). A portrait artist will cut the traditional silhouette portrait of a person within minutes.


Japan is one of the countries influenced by Chinese paper cutting art. But the Japanese have developed it into one of the national unique art and culture. The term of kirigami is commonly used for this art. In the Japanese, “kiri” means “cut” and “gami” means “paper. Typically, a kirigami work is started by folding into several parts, the artis would then unfold the paper after bearing the image of a snowflake, symmetric polygons, or the flowers… (the common is that they are symmetric through the center). Such works are called Mon-kiri.



Mon-kiri, differ from the rest of Kirigami is Kirie, Kirie (切 り 絵) is an expression of an image to be cut with scissors or a knife in a black paper. Once completed they will attach the cutout on a white background to create a contrast, which gives the impression to viewers like a real painting. Kirie originally used in Catholic ceremonies in Japan. Today, Hina Aoyamal is the most famous artists of this art. She has published many books guiding Kirie, if you are interested can find purchase on