Lizaveta Chyrvontsava


Belarusian papercutting

Papercutting is one of the oldest kind of decorative and applied art that originated in China thanks to the invention of paper.

Paper manufacturing technology became popular in other countries: initially in the neighboring countries – Japan, Korea, Indonesia and then in a distant land – in Persia, Turkey, European countries. The name of this kind of art in Poland is “wycinanka”, in France is “decoupage” in Germany – “scherenschnitte” and in England – “papercutting

Since 16th century, silhouette cutting (black and white realistic images of people, nature motives and genre scenes) had been spreading among the nobility. Folk papercutting was different from silhouette papercutting by its technique. Paper could be 4, 6, 8 times accordion-folded in a triangle so that the axis of the symmetry intersect in the center, then delicate geometric patterns were cut out on the folds. A sheet of paper was also folded in a half in order to cut a half of the silhouette of an image and patterns on the folds. Perhaps the first “papercut” in the territory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and then the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was a paper custody (ornamentation for guarding wax seals on the documents)

Paper became available and common among people, they cut curtains, napkins, decorative lace out of paper. Papercuts were used to decorate icons, windows, furniture and walls in the house. Images for papercuts were borrowed from weaving, embroidery, pottery, wood carving and had symbolic meaning. During it existence, this kind of art experienced the interest of different segments of the population and wide dissemination as well as the decadence and almost complete oblivion.

In the 1980s professional artists began to revive papercutting. Modern Belarusian papercutting has become one of the common kind of decorative and applied art. It stands out for its various themes, technique, design decisions but always focuses on traditional folk motifs.


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