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Art that soothes the soul

Lim cutting out a paper horse./The Star

Publication Date : 17-01-2014


A Malaysian Chinese man finds the ancient art of paper cutting therapeutic


Selling Chinese paper cutting or jianzhi does not reap much profit, and neither is it easy to master, but for Lim Cheng Hock, he keeps at it out of sheer love for the art.

The 56-year-old freelance artist said paper cutting was one of the oldest tradition in the world, but had gone unnoticed with the younger generation.

“Since the art isn’t selling well, many feel it is a waste of time to learn the skill,” said Lim, who has been making all sorts of shapes from paper since the early 1970s.

For him, making paper art is actually a relaxing routine.

“It is very soothing to the soul when you start cutting.

“Although it takes about three hours to cut out the shape of an animal, it does not sap me,” said the part-time choir teacher.

He makes paper cuttings of different animals according to the Chinese zodiac, which has 12 in all, including the mythical dragon.

Formerly a teacher, Lim quit in 2006 to do freelance work as well as to teach a choir.

“I wanted to do something less stressful and I found myself doing more paper-cutting activities after resigning,” he said.

Asked what he did with his art works, given that it was not highly sought-after, Lim said he gave some away to people who showed interest in them, while he framed the rest.

Lim said his two daughters, aged 26 and 24, were also not interested in the art. “They only know the basics,” he said. “I will not force them to learn this skill.”


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