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Traditional Smoked Paintings Drift into Spotlight

Smoked painting, an art form unique to northwest China's Shaanxi Province, is attracting visitors' attention at the ongoing folk-art exhibition in Shaanxi's capital, Xi'an. The traditional art form played an important role in the evolution of the renowned craft of paper cutting in the area.


Fuxian County in the north of Shaanxi Province is the hometown of the smoked painting, which has become a familiar decoration displayed on shelves and cupboards throughout the county.


As the name suggests, a smoked painting is in fact a smoked paper-cut. The artist must put a paper-cut on another piece of paper, dampen it with water, and smoke the whole thing until it becomes blackened. The paper cut is then torn away to reveal the colored picture beneath.


Thanks to this unique process, smoked painting has the effect of combining paper-cutting and block printing. Once only considered a way to record paper-cut patterns, it has now become an independent art, and a must among the Chinese Lunar New Year decorations.


(CCTV.com March 30, 2004)

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