For anyone interested in the symbolism of Chinese designs, or in the origins of larger works of art, this book is a must-have. It contains 300 black-and-white silhouette-style cut-paper designs—hua yang—done freehand with scissors and paper. It is work done by peasant society for embroidery patterns of lesser clothing, such as aprons, women's and children's footwear, etc.. To the Chinese, this was considered utilitarian rather than art, so a collection like this is a rarity. To our Western eyes, or at least certainly to mine, these are miniature treasures, made even more wondrous by the fact that they were cut freehand. Wow! At the end of the book is a supplement that provides information on the meaning of the symbols, grouped in categories such as mystic symbols, animals, trees and fruit, and many more.
As I was using the Asian Design CD-ROM and Book, I realized that many of those simple, yet colorful figures have there origins in these paper-cut designs. I chose three from the CD-ROM to show as examples with three of the corresponding designs from this book. You may also see the Plum Blossom design in both forms on the Chinese Resource Index.
The three examples are shown in their original black-and-white form from this book, then in a decorative form from the CD-ROM mentioned above: Keep in mind that their original intent was for simple embroidery. Cool, huh?
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