SSUE – Paper cutting

24 May

By Glenn Sim


The SSUE participants were fortunate to be able to attend a short lesson on paper cutting, taught by the elderly who were mainly retired teachers from the University. Paper cutting is very intricate and requires a lot of creative thinking. The most amazing thing about paper cutting is the symmetry in the cutting, and the proportioned folding. Most elderly enjoy paper cutting and it is one of their favourite pastime to be able to exercise both their fingers and their minds.

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Bringing it back to today’s context, paper cutting is mostly used to ornament walls, windows, doors, columns, mirrors, lamps and lanterns in homes and are also used on presents or are given as gifts themselves. There is a Chinese belief that entrances decorated with paper cut outs are supposed to bring good luck. In Singapore, we often see the zodiac signs and well-wishes paper cuttings pasted on walls during the Lunar New Year.

Personally, I am a hands-on person and thus, enjoyed this activity. However, the thought of using the laser cutter crossed my mind. The laser cutter would make this entire process extremely efficient. However, the traditional meaning and the joy in folding paper and cutting them would be gone. This is one of the many problems humans are facing now. The advancement of technology and the traditional meaning of the original product leaves one in a dilemma. With technology setting in, the culture would eventually fade away in the near future, but I believe that in the rural parts of China, they would continue using their bare hands for the traditional paper cutting.

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