The History

Papercutting is the art of cutting paper in pretty things. And that used to be my total sum of knowledge on the subject.

Then I discovered that my favourite author Hans Christian Andersen (1805–1875) (Danish Dude) was also known for papercut artwork. And that got my attention.   I was also mentally shopping for a new hobby that didn’t have massive over head costs (so that wiped out painting, candle making and bungee jumping).

Mr Andersen’s (Matrix flashback) early paper cuttings looked surprisingly normal. In fact they looked like any learners first paper cuttings.


By this logic I should die a paper-cutting master!

The art has evolved uniquely all over the world to adopt to different cultural styles.

The oldest surviving paper cut out is a symmetrical circle from the 6th century Six Dynasties period found in Xinjiang China. Papercutting continued to be practiced during the Song and Tang Dynasties as a popular form of decorative art. By the eighth or ninth century papercutting appeared in West Asia and in Turkey in the 16th century. Within a century, papercutting was being done in most of middle Europe.

Papercutting has been a common Jewish art form since the Middle Ages, connected with various customs and ceremonies, and associated with holidays and family life. Paper cuts often decorated ketubot (marriage contracts), Mizrahs, and for ornaments on festive occasions. A story tells of Rabbi Shem-Tov ben Yitzhak ben Ardutiel, finding that his ink had frozen, continued to write the manuscript by cutting the letters into the paper. By about the 17th century, papercutting had become a popular form for small religious artifacts such as Mizrachs and Shavuot decorations. In the 20th century, the art of Jewish papercutting was revived in Israel. Today it is most commonly used for mizrachs and ketubot.

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