Exquisite paper-cut designs hang on the walls of Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU) International Practice Innovation Base. The paper-cuttings are from the international students of the NPU. They used innovative laser cutting technology during the traditional Chinese paper-cutting process, so as to express their love for Chinese traditional culture.
Vinay, a 22-year-old student from New Delhi, India, is studying aerospace engineering and gradually became familiar with the ancient, unique city of Xi'an.
Talking about Xi'an and her people, Vinay spoke of a "little thing" that he remembered. When he first came to Xi'an, he was unfamiliar with this new city and he went alone to the bell tower. After a meal at a fast food restaurant, he found that his wallet was gone.
"Not only money, but also my student card and other documents were in the wallet, but I did not speak Chinese at that time, and I did not know what to do," Vinay said.
Looking anxiously nearby, he ran through his day carefully. Maybe the wallet fell while at the fast food restaurant. He quickly ran back and a waiter in the restaurant helped him find his wallet and returned it to him.
Vinay, who was new to the city, will never forget this act of kindness. Enthusiastic and honest people were his first impression of Xi'an. Now, Vinay is in his junior year. Although his Chinese is not as fluent as the locals, he needs English and Chinese to speak with teachers and students.
This does not hinder his love for Chinese culture. After winter vacation started, Chinese students went home, while most of the international students stayed at school. In order to enrich their holiday life, NPU International Practice Innovation Base set up an intangible cultural heritage experience project - paper-cutting - to allow more international students to understand Chinese culture and become familiar with Chinese folk art.
Different from well-known scenes of well-tailored cuttings by folk artists, international students learned the process of cutting paper without scissors.
"They all use modern instruments to design and cut. This is a window for them to understand Chinese culture, and it is also a good opportunity for them to improve their experience with laser cutting operations. The students are learning very quickly," said tutor Wang Lingli.
Wang said that he translated the relevant information in advance into English in order to let international students know more about the history and artistic features of Chinese paper-cutting.
In front of the computer, Vinay and his classmates used the paper-cutting template provided by the teacher to add their understanding of Chinese festival culture and folk art. They designed different paper-cut designs and used a non-metal laser cutting machine for the project. Laser cutting cardboard templates takes a few minutes and allowed students to be able to cut out their paper-cut piece with ease.
Subjects in the designs included the Chinese zodiac, giant panda
s, peonies, lotus and other motifs. They were marked with English and integrated the Chinese characters for "Spring" and "Happiness" to create unique paper-cut works. Behind every piece of paper-cut is a different historical origin that reflects China's vast traditional culture.
Among the international students, Vinay designs and produces the largest quantity and best quality of paper-cuts. After getting the recognition and approval of the instructor, Vinay was even more confident. He said, "Chinese paper-cutting is particularly beautiful. I now like it."