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Columns, Essay

A Glimpse of Chinese Culture through Papercuts

THE ORIGIN OF PAPERCUTS Prior to the invention of paper, the ancient Chinese used silver and gold leaf to create patterns and ornaments, some of which were discovered in burial sites dating back to the Shang Dynasty (sixteenth–eleventh century BC).1 During the Western Han period, the emperor Liu Che (156–87 BC) was comforted by a court artist who, in order to relieve the emperor the agony of separation from Lady Li, his deceased wife, did a life-size papercut of her and placed it behind a s...