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Returning to Mother's Home
回娘家

7 October 2007
 

This piece of paper cut out (剪纸) is titled Returning to Mother’s Home (《回娘家》),depicting a married young woman on the way of visiting her own parents. However this artwork is not crafted by a young married woman. In fact, the artist not only isn't young, he is not even a woman. On the other hand, he’s not just any Chinese man, but China’s president Hu Jintao, sometime called Big Brother Hu (胡哥) by his young fans, sometime nicknamed Taotao (涛涛) by his women-admires who may not so young.

Early this year on the Chinese new year’s eve, which is equivalent to the Christmas eve in the West, Hu went to, not his own mother’s home, but the home of a peasant mother at a remote village in a backward province Gansu, and shared New Year eve dinner with her and her fellow villagers. When Hu paid his call on the woman, she was just working on paper-cutting for her new year‘s home deco. The president somehow identified her as his crafts master, and immediately enrolled in her vocational course. After a few minutes of learning and practice, the Tsinghua University’s hydraulic engineering graduate once again graduated from the peasant woman’s private home school (私塾), and proudly presented his graduation project, Returning Mother’s Home, on his master‘s window.

Paper-cutting has a 1,500 years tradition in China, and the earliest record on this home deco arts can be found in The Time in Jinchu (《荆楚岁时记》) written during the fifth century. Its most popular use is of decorating home windows, particularly in the northern parts of China.

The earliest tangible evidence of the advanced Chinese paper cutting crafts, unearthed from Turpan in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, was made 1,500 years ago, which has a Chinese character 福 (fortune) as its central motif.

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