Can a piece of paper be transformed into a fine work of art? If you take the time to examine the exquisite patterns of a paper-cut, you will no doubt be impressed by the artist's skill. Given the ingenious designs used to make them, paper-cuts made in Fushan, a county in Linfen, a city in North China's Shanxi Province, have become world renowned. The paper-cuts, which convey blessings for happiness and good luck, embody people's desire to enjoy the good life. The craft of making Fushan paper-cuts was added to the list of Shanxi's items of intangible cultural heritage in 2009.我国的剪纸艺术历史悠久，山西浮山剪纸自成风格，这些乡土气息浓重的民间工艺品是当地风俗的生动表现，也反映了百姓对美好生活的愿望。2009年浮山剪纸入选山西省非物质文化遗产名录。
Records indicate the craft of making paper-cuts dates back more than 1,500 years. Paper-cuts originated during the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420 AD), and the craft was at the height of its popularity during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Then, many households, stores and shops were decorated with colorful paper-cuts during the New Year, Spring Festival, the MidAutumn Festival and other festivals. Over the past 600-plus years, Fushan's residents have taken delight in appreciating the beautiful paper-cuts created within the county.
Many girls in the county begin studying the skills needed to make paper-cuts at an early age. According to local customs, a bride's skill in creating paper-cuts is an important indicator to measure whether she has a lively mind and a quick hand.
The paper-cuts' patterns vividly portray figures, animals, plants, flowers, scenes and/or buildings. Fushan women also create patterns of scenes and figures from operas and folk tales. To promote the development of the craft, Fushan in September 2006 established a center to create and display paper-cuts, so more people could understand the beauty of the art form. Given the ingenious, creative designs, many Chinese and foreign artists recognize the craft as an exquisite art form. Fushan papercuts have been exhibited in museums and art centers in many countries, including France, Italy, Japan and the United States.
Liang Chunlan, 56, a native of Dongguo, a village in Fushan County, is an inheritor of the craft. She is a member of the Chinese Folk Literature and Art Association. Liang began learning how to make paper-cuts when she was a little girl. "Influenced by both my mother and grandmother, I developed an interest in creating the items during my early childhood," says Liang.
She has been making paper-cuts for more than 30 years, during which time she has strived to improve her skills. She has won many prizes for her paper-cuts. By drawing inspiration from life and Fushan's traditional culture, Liang has created a unique artistic style.
Liang never draws patterns before she uses scissors to cut the paper. She has integrated various artistic elements, such as embroideries and carvings, in the patterns of her papercuts. She has created dozens of meter-long paper-cuts.
Liang in recent years has put a lot of effort into promoting the craft. She takes delight in teaching others how to create paper-cuts. Sometimes, when she eats out with friends, she folds napkins and cuts the paper with scissors, to show her friends how to make paper-cuts.
To encourage young people to learn the craft-making skills, Liang in recent years has provided training courses, geared to university students and primary and middle school students, to teach the kids how to make paper-cuts. She has also spoken to university students in Australia and other countries, to publicize information about both the craft and Fushan's folk arts and customs.
Liang has written several books to help Chinese understand the beauty of the craft. Some art schools have used her works as teaching materials. One of her books, A Course on China's Paper-making Skills, introduces the skills used to create various styles of paper-cuts. The book, which was published in 2006, uses simple language and vivid pictures to illustrate how to make paper-cuts.