This multi-color paper cut-out of a spider web is 11 ½” wide and 13” long; with a mat it is 16 ¾” wide and 18 1/2” long. It is designed and made by Pi-Ping Savage. The signature on the bottom right uses her Chinese name. The red seal means “It does not matter” which is a traditional Chinese philosophical attitude toward life.
The Chinese folk art of paper cutting, creating pictures by cutting out single sheets of paper, has been practiced for many centuries. As early as the T'ang Dynasty (618-917 A.D.) pictures of local deities or highly stylized designs were cut out and sold in markets and on the street. Those deities and designs were often associated with certain holidays and it was customary to display pictures according to the season. Pictures of the kitchen god were placed above the hearth and changed every New Year's Eve. Other paper designs or pictures were pasted on window panes or doors to add a festive air to the home.
This simple folk art displays a great deal of sophistication. The composition of images is governed by two complimentary principles, the male and female principles of Yin and Yang. An example of the male principle of composition is the profile or silhouette school children cut out; only the outline or external edges are presented. The female principle of composition highlights only the interior detail; the internal composition of the image then suggests its outline. Of course, both methods of composition can be combined and used at the same time.
The method of cutting paper has also evolved. For these creations, a picture is drawn in place on top of the paper to be cut. A pair of scissors will no longer suffice; instead, a fine pointed knife is used to cut out the entire picture. The drawing is discarded while the bottom piece of paper becomes the paper cut-out. Then, the cut out picture is glued onto a backing board and finally matted. The finished product is not a print or etching, silkscreen, or woodblock print. Each picture is the subtle combination of cut out pieces of paper and is an original in its own right.
The product of hours of painstaking attention to detail, a paper cut-out also requires your attention. The pictures are wrapped with clear acetate and eventually should be framed to protect the work from the elements. These pictures, like other good art, should not be hung in direct sunlight or a humid spot.