Thursday, 19 June 2008

Happiness of the Eyebrows!

I've just spent the last 5 days in rainy Shanghai and while rummaging for paper cuts (didn't find any)I found an interesting book in English. So now I can let you in on some of the meanings behind some popular traditional Chinese paper cuts.

Before you read the explanations look carefully at the paper cuts and see what you read into them.

This one is A Snake Circling a Rabbit. I initially thought this was all about danger, fear and the inevitably of death… How wrong I was!

The description for this one is long but in a nutshell it describes peasant families trying to marry off their sons early. To marry off a 15 or 16 yr old son meant finding a mature wife 2 years older who could look after her husband well. A girl born in the year of the rabbit is older than a boy born in the year of the snake. Hence the saying, “If a snake circles a rabbit the family will surely be rich.” Therefore, making a paper cut in the shape of a snake circling a rabbit to paste in the bridal chamber speaks louder than words.

What do you make of this one?

This one has the brilliant title of ‘Happiness on the Eyebrows’. The description says – ‘The two eyebrows of the person are cut into a pair of flying magpies as are the arms, which add a festive atmosphere to it. The key point is that it is a masculine symbol. Under his crotch lie lotus flowers which symbolize a female. As a whole, it is a picture depicting copulation between a man and a woman. The guava and lotus flowers have the meaning of giving birth to a child.’

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Dahn the 'ole!

When I was five or six years old I dug a hole in a neighbour’s dirt driveway. I was all of 6 inches down on my epic dig when the neighbour returned home. She seemed intrigued in my hole but was concerned that I was going too deep and would end up in China. I was shocked that I could do this. Little did I realize I would eventually end up in this neck of the woods. Not quite China, but Taiwan is close enough. This memory is the theme of this symmetrical silk paper cut.
Click on the pictures for clearer images

Since it involves a journey through the earth, it can be looked at upside down or downside up.

Daniel is fleeing the trees who grasp and scratch him. They don’t like him and he doesn’t like them either.

He dives down a hole, a badger hole. Deeper and deeper he goes.

This is where the badgers live. They gaze at him from the comfort of their sett.

Out he pops at the other end of the hole. Everything is upside down. That’s because he’s in the land of the Dancing Boys! He watches aghast as they ride their bikes, crashing into things. Bugs scuttle across the floor. Poor ol' Daniel what has he got himself into?

I cut this piece in two colours, red and black. I am thinking of mounting the red one between two layers of silk and displaying it as a shadow screen. Here's a sample pic of it. I love the shimmering, blurry imagery.