2015

The Paper-cuts of Zhang Xiufang

China Paper Cutting Museum

Zhang Xiufang
Representative inheritors of Yangzhou paper cuts, part of national intangible cultural heritage.

Flowers in Full Bloom, paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang, Zhao Hongmei, representative inheritors of Yangzhou paper cuts, an item listed in the State-level Intangible Cultural Heritage


Crafted for the celebration of the “2500th Anniversary of the Founding of Yangzhou”, this piece adopted a super large size.

It marked a breakthrough in the art of Yangzhou paper cuts.

Selected flowers represent of the four seasons, namely, peach, lotus, osmanthus and plum blossoms.

They symbolize the cycle of four seasons and changes of the times.

Flowers in Full Bloom, paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang, Zhao Hongmei

Flowers in Full Bloom, paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang, Zhao Hongmei

February in Early Spring, paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang


The camellia blossom, either in full bloom or in bud, seem to be exuding refreshing fragrance. The peach blossoms are shedding petals after an outburst of spring rain, creating a scene so dreamy that it's as if colorful clouds are falling from the sky, as if birds cannot help but dancing and singing.

However, as it is February in early spring, plum blossoms are fighting against the still chilling wind with their elegant beauty. The herbaceous peony blossoms are even more enchanting after the nurturing of spring wind, as fascinating as young ladies, adding vitality to the image.

February in Early Spring

Inscription on Blooming Flowers in March, paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang.

Blooming Flowers in March, paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang

This piece depicts a scene of flowers in full bloom in March. The elegant viburnum, enchanting magnolia, fabulous camellia and charming crabapple, all in full bloom in the soothing breeze and warm sunlight of March...

...create a vibrant and joyous scene together with the colorful butterflies flying and playing with each other among beautiful flowers.

Blooming Flowers in March

Blooming Flowers in March

Spring Charm, paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang

This piece shows a beautiful spring scene of peony blossoms, the king of flowers, in full bloom with paired butterflies flying around. The stillness of sumptuous peony blossoms poses an interesting contrast to the liveliness of butterflies, constituting a scene of vigorous vitality.

Swallows, Willows and Peach Blossoms, paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang

This piece represents a perfect combination of cutting skills and subjects. It adopted the theme of birds and flowers, which Yangzhou paper cuts are good at, with an elegant composition of well-arranged elements. In terms of techniques, it applied openwork cutting to illustrate the graceful willow leaves and branches, and the glamorous peach blossoms. The swallows, in different sizes and various postures, flying around the image, integrating the parts into an integral whole. All the elements, no matter the willows, the blossoms, or the swallows, were illustrated in the life-like manner thanks to the artisan’s ingenious cutting skills.

Cranes Flying Around Clouds, paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang

In a composition consisting of evenly-arranged elements ending up with liveliness, this piece shows a perfect integration of application of multiple cutting skills with the subject. While illustrating the cranes with blocks or planes, the artisan adopted continuous lines as thin as hair to depict the clouds, creating an interesting contrast between lines and planes. Thanks to the artisan’s ingenious cutting skills, the cranes are so life-like that it seems as if they flying around the clouds, which look so light as a result of the curvy, flowing lines that they seem to be afloat.

Floral Patterns, earlier paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang

Floral Patterns, earlier paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang

Floral Patterns, earlier paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang

Floral Patterns, earlier paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang

Floral Patterns, earlier paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang

Floral Patterns, earlier paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang

Floral Patterns, earlier paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang

Floral Patterns, earlier paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang

Floral Patterns, earlier paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang

Floral Patterns, earlier paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang

Floral Patterns, earlier paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang

Floral Patterns, earlier paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang

Floral Patterns, earlier paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang

Floral Patterns, earlier paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang

Floral Patterns, earlier paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang

Refreshing and Lingering Fragrance, paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang and Li Haixia

Refreshing and Lingering Fragrance, paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang and Li Haixia

Refreshing and Lingering Fragrance, paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang and Li Haixia

Refreshing and Lingering Fragrance, paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang and Li Haixia

Four-panel Decorative Screen, paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang

This is a decorative screen composed of four panels of paper cut-outs with the theme of birds and flowers, respectively featuring camellia and parrots, peony and Chinese bulbuls, chrysanthemum and sparrows and Chinese roses and blue birds. The different characters of the four kinds of flowers, the splendor of peony blossoms and the perseverance of chrysanthemums, for instance, were illustrated in detail. The birds, either flying in pairs or standing among flowers, add vitality and liveliness to the image. The artisan’s ingenious cutting skills are shown on the flowing lines and contrasts between light and shade, lines and planes, naturally folding leaves, and lively postures of birds, typical of Yangzhou paper-cuts.

Four-panel Decorative Screen, paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang

Four-panel Decorative Screen, paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang

Four-panel Decorative Screen, paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang

Eight Dragons, paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang

With an auspicious theme of dragons, this piece adopted the rule of strict symmetry in formal aesthetics, illustrating eight dragons radiating from the center towards the pearls. The image is composed of dragons, pearls and clouds, among which the clouds were outlined with well-arranged flowing curvy lines as thin as hair. This contributed to the light, graceful and floating look of the clouds, while the pearls and dragons were crafted based on the combination of “yin and yang”, namely, outline and openwork cutting techniques with blanks left for bodies and thin lines for dragon beards and pearl lusters, to express the tension of the subjects while echoing the lines on the clouds.

Full of contrasts between black and white as well as between thick and thin lines, this piece creates an appealing scene of vigorous dragons flying above clouds.

A Lone Fisherman in Spring, paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang

This piece adopted the theme of a lone fisherman, a breakthrough in terms of subject for paper cut-outs, sitting on a boat sailing on the lake under floating clouds, with beautifully-shaped willows and reeds at the lake bank, creating a poetic scene characteristic of Chinese landscape paintings. All the elements are well-arranged in the composition, perfectly integrating tranquility and liveliness.

The highlight of this piece lies in its lines, such as the flowing lines of ripples, the light and delicate lines of clouds, the straight line of the fishing pole and the vigorous lines of willow trees, all finished thanks to the combination of various ingenious cutting skills.

Rustic Beauty, paper cut-out by Zhang Xiufang

This piece shows a tranquil rustic scene in the crisp air under the clear autumn sky with Chinese parasol trees, red persimmon fruits, floating clouds, white sail boats, cute houses and bridges. Well-arranged elements in the composition, the meticulously-cut willow and parasol trees all contribute to a life-like scene, making this piece an exceptional landscape work.

China Paper Cutting Museum
Credits: Story

Wang Jing
Zhang Xiufang
Gao Xing

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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