Check out this amazing paper craft discovered during my first foray out of the city and into China's traditional towns back in October last year. Píngyáo 平遥, just over 400 miles west of Beijing is one of the last remaining, working, walled heritage cities. Once a thriving merchant town during the Ming Dynasty, later progressing to a centre for banking during the Qing dynasty, Píngyáo is now a Mecca for unrelenting hoards of Chinese tourists (complete with speakerphone wielding guide). However, make the tactical decision to stay the night and post 4pm, voilà! no crowds to be seen.
Now, enough of the travel tips and back to the art. As you've probably discerned by now, Chinese heritage town + prosperous, culture hungry Chinese tourists = perfect money making opportunity. But a glance down one of Píngyáo's cobbled streets and you'll be taken aback by the never-ending stretch of grey-brick walls embellished with line upon line revolutionary red hued, intricately scored, traditional Chinese paper cuttings.
Depicting archetypal scenes, zodiac signs and characters, the paper cuttings are hugely symbolic in Chinese culture and are largely seen during festivals, ceremonies and family events, often given as gifts by well wishers. My personal appreciation for the craft was propelled a few years back whilst researching feature ideas for my ethnic inspired degree project, TRIBE magazine. A Taiwanese friend, Yiki, introduced me to her own brand of Chinese paper cut inspired false eyelashes (more on that later...), a novel idea right? Just another awesome example of how traditional culture continues to inspire contemporary design. What's been inspiring you lately?
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