As one of the most popular handicrafts, paper cut can be seen in many parts of China. During the Spring Festival, people paste patterns on the window, door lintel or desks for the festival atmosphere.
Different from Han’s paper cutting, it is difficult to tell when that of Dai originated. Paper cutting has served as a bond to express Dai’s thought and feeling since ancient times.
At the beginning, the Dais only used simple-patterned paper for offering sacrifice. Later, under the influence of Buddhist culture and Han culture, the paper patterns were widely employed in festive and religious activities, funerals and decoration.
Stepping into Dai villages on China-Myanmar border, one can see paper cut everywhere. In Dais’ opinions, as a practical and simple skill, paper cut serves as the most convenient way to express one’s wish to Buddha. Therefore, when worshipping Buddha, the Dais usually bring the paper patterns cut by themselves.
When it comes to the Dai paper cutting, we cannot fail to mention Shao Meihan, a national-level inheritor of the Dai paper-cutting art.
Situated in Nongme Village, Fengping Town, Mangshi City in Dehong, Shao Meihan's paper-cutting museum covers an area of 102 square meters. It serves as a center for exhibition, appreciation and training and is open to the public for free. The museum is also her home, in which she does farm work and performs artistic works.
Similar to other kinds of paper cut, the content and subjects of the Dai paper cut are closely linked with the colorful life. Each of Shan Meihan’s work functions as a miniature of life.
It is learned that early Dai paper cut conveyed religious theme. In 1960s and 1970s, educated youth brought the art of Han’s paper cutting, which was mainly used for expressing things in daily life. Shaped by the new ideas, the Dai paper cut was no longer confined to religion, taking in various subjects related to daily life.
In 2006, Dai's paper-cutting was listed as national intangible cultural heritage. In 2009, as part of China's paper-cutting art, it was included on the UNESCO world intangible cultural heritage list.