I will show you the tips for China Travel, the Traditional Chinese Culture, Chinese Food and some other interesting things in China here.

February 23, 2010

Chinese Paper Cutting

Paper-cutting is a very distinctive visual art of Chinese handicrafts. It originated from the 6th century when women used to paste golden and silver foil cuttings onto their hair at the temples, and men used them in sacred rituals. During the Chinese Festivals like the New Year, paper cuttings are used to adorn entrances of buildings and homes to bring good luck and fortune.

They have special significance at festivals and on holidays. At the New Year's Festival for example, entrances are decorated with papercuttings which are supposed to bring good luck.Papercuttings used to be used as patterns, especially for embroidery and lacquer work.

Though small piece of paper is, it can reflect many aspects of life like prosperous atmosphere, healthy persons and harvest year, etc. Some is even drawned from stories representing common goals and expects to happiness.

The main cutting tools are simple: paper and scissors or an engraving knife, but clever and deft craftspeople are remarkably good at cutting in the theme of daily life. When you look at items made in this method carefully, you will be amazed by the true to life expressions of the figure's sentiment and appearance, or portrayal of natural plants and animals' diverse gestures. Patterns of chrysanthemum display the curling petals, pied magpies show their tiny feathers and others such as a married daughter returning to her parents' home, or young people paying a New Year call to their grandparents.

People find hope and comfort in expressing wishes with paper cuttings. For example: for a wedding ceremony, red paper cuttings are a traditional and required decoration on the tea set, the dressing table glass, and on other furniture. A big red paper character 'Xi' (happiness) is a traditional must on the newlywed's door. Upon the birthday party of a senior, the character 'Shou' represents longevity and will add delight to the whole celebration; while a pattern of plump children cuddling fish signifies that every year they will be abundant in wealth.

Chinese Lantern Festival 2010

The Lantern Festival is a traditional Chinese festival since Han Dynasty more than 2000 years ago. In the early Tan Dynasty (618-907AD), it was called the Shan-Yuan Festival, because of Taoism. in the late Tan Dynasty, it was called the Yuan-Xiao Festival. It was called Lantern Night in the Sun Dynasty (960-1297 A.D.). The Lantern Festival was used in Ching Dynasty (1644-1911 AD).

According to the Chinese calendar, the night of January 15th has the first full moon of the New Year and marks the end of the Chinese New Year festivities.

Chinese people traditionally celebrate this occasion with the Lantern Festival in which beautiful lanterns (and nowadays electric lights) of all shapes and sizes are lit, fireworks are set off, lantern riddles are devised and guessed and people eat Yuan Xiao together while appreciating the full moon.

The lantern displays can be found in the town center square and temples. Usually. there is the lantern competition at the temple. Traditional lanterns are made by paper. They can make the lantern tuning around by the heat circulation from the candle inside. Today the light of the lantern is from the electricity. People like to design lantern using zodiac animals, historical figures, saint and gods of Taoism or Buddhism. Certainly, the current year's animal symbol of the Chinese calendar is most popular subject. Using the computer tool today, they can design the lantern with different movements, the different colors of light and even using the laser light with special visual and sound effects.

Customs of the Lantern Festival

1. Eating Yuan Xiao
It is well known that Lantern Festival is also called Yuan-Xiao Festival. This is because Chinese eat Yuan-Xiao on this day. This custom originated from the Eastern Jin Dynasty in the fourth century, then became popular during the Tang and Song Dynasty.

Yuan-Xiao just like Tang-Yuan . They are made of sweet rice flour into sticky glutinous balls. They can be filled in with sesame, red-bean or peanut butter paste. Usually, they are severed with sugar water. But some people still make salty Tang-Yuan.

The difference between Yuan-Xiao and Tang-Yuan is the way they are made and cooked. This is because that Chinese in different geographic area prepare the food in different way. Chinese call the one they eat on Winter Solstice Day is Tang-Yuan. The one they eat on the Lantern festival is called Yuan-Xiao.

2. Lantern Riddles

Guessing lantern riddles is a popular addition to the Lantern Festival that appeared during the Tang Dynasty. As you would imagine, the game is to write riddles and have other people try to guess them. This is a popular social part of the Lantern festival and provides great exercise for the brain!