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With the invention of paper in China during the 1st century and with its growing production throughout China during the period of the Northern and Southern Dynasties, decorative paper cutting came into being. The paper-cut art of Longzhong is one of the oldest folk-art genres in China.
There are two methods used in the creation of paper-cut: one, used for the creation of objects of worship utilizes knife and chisel, whilst objects used in witchcraft and most decorative objects, except for Chunye and Zhemian, are made by means of scissors. The Longzhong paper-cut, characterized by its wildness, simplicity and clumsiness of style, has distinct themes of Totemism and reproductive worship, as well as an intense interest in human life itself, which are expressed by resorting to rhetorical devices such as simile, metaphor, synecdoche, metonymy, symbol, analogy, homophone and exaggeration. The function of the witchcraft paper-cut is of spiritualism, exorcism, illness-driving, evil-driving and rain-praying. The god-worshiping paper-cut, with its simple and abstract patterns, attempts to display prayersï¿½ reverence to gods and goddesses so as to obtain their benevolence and protection. The patterns of ancestor-worship paper-cut are much richer and more complicated, serving to express manï¿½s love of and missing of the dead and as a wish for being helped to supply them with the necessities of living in the Underworld. The Decorative paper-cut is used to adorn houses and household utensils. In addition, popular ideologies such as the loyalty and filial piety of Confucianism, Yinyang technique, the five rules of Taoism, and Karma of Buddhism are penetrated and femaleï¿½s social identities such as family-centeredness, capability in housework, and childbearing are emphasized and constructed as well.
Key words: paper-cut, worship, witchcraft, decoration, rhetoric, function
The paper-cut of Longzhong is one of the oldest folk-art genres in Chinese popular art history, which is thought to date from about 541 A.D., when worship and witchcraft paper-cuts were commonly produced for use in funerals. Some of them are still preserved perfectly in tombs due to the dry climate in areas conducive to the preservation of paper such as the Tulufan, Xinjiang region. It is believed that ï¿½these were the earliest paper-cuts in Chinaï¿½ (Wang, 2006: p.29-30). The hosts of the graves were courtiers of the Gaochang kingdom of the Han nationality, and who immigrated mainly from Gansu and Shanxi. The Gaochang kingdom at that time was governed by ï¿½the king Qu and his descendents during 502 A.D. - 640 A.D.ï¿½whose hometown was Yuzhongï¿½ (Jiang, 2008: p.50) located in Longzhong. The etiquette of the Gaochang kingdom inherited Longzhongï¿½s customs since it was a feudal autocratic government, the birth and etiquette of the king must be uplifted and glorified. The etiquette and custom that the king was accustomed to were regarded as the standard, consequently the courtiers and common people followed the fashion. Furthermore, the patterns of the paper-cuts in the tombs are similar to that of contemporary Longzhong which convey the same cultural connotation and approximate function. The cultural environment and climate of the Longzhong area has allowed the preservation of these ancient crafts.
The Longzhong paper-cut, characterized by its wildness, simplicity and clumsiness of style, can be divided into three types according to their different functions, i.e., worship, witchcraft and decoration. Worship paper-cuts are mainly engraved by knife and chisel, whilst witchcraft and most decorative types, except for Chunye and Zhemian, are made by means of cutting. The worship paper-cuts are used on occasions of funerals and festivals in honor of deities. The former include all kinds of streamers such as filial streamers, couplet streamers, incense streamers, flower streamers, lantern streamers and soul-directing streamers, gold and silver buckets, money trees and treasure bowls, as well as paper coins. However, the later type is much simpler, only appearing in remembrance banners. This type prevails and is the conventional for the patterns of worship paper-cuts, such as Yuntou, swallow tail, flame, leaf, and some other signs similar to ?,?,ï¿½ and .
Paper-cuts used in Witchcraft consist mainly of figures of moppets intended to function as senders of disease, soul calling, warding off evils, family protection, storm prevention, rain praying, draught combating and exorcism, etc. The decorative paper-cuts are various and colorful in comparison with the former two, and can be used on any of the occasions of celebration such as Spring Festival, weddings, birthdays and other festive days when people decorate their windows, ceilings, pillars, Kang, walls, cupboards, trunks, and even men themselves with colored paper-cuts. The patterns of the decorative paper-cuts are also plentiful including animals, plants, flowers, and well-known figures of myth, folk tales, and drama, etc. In addition, some traditional patterns such as totem and fabricated items like dragon, and the phoenix still make up of the main patterns. Each pattern embodies profound and particular meanings such as Totemism and reproductive worship, as well as an intense interest in human life itself, which are expressed by employing figures of speech such as simile, metaphor, synecdoche, metonymy, symbol, analogy, homophone and exaggeration, etc.
Classic rhetoric focuses on language and its usage, which is commonly known as ï¿½a device of enforcing the persuasive or artistic effect.ï¿½ (Zhao, 2011: p. 186) Since antiquity, however, ï¿½attempts have been made to discover a semiotic system in the field of rhetoric figures.ï¿½ (Noth, 1990: p.341) In spite of the fact that great attempts have been made , the revival of the rhetoric studies had not appeared until ï¿½the second half of the twentieth centuryï¿½ (Chandler, 2007) induced by the joint efforts of ï¿½structuralists, poststructuralistsï¿½ as well as ï¿½the cognitive semanticists such as George Lakoff and Mark Johnsonï¿½ ibid, 2007 . Hence new rhetoric comes into being of which the semiotic rhetoric ï¿½has become the kernelï¿½ (Zhou, 2010). As to the aim of the semiotic rhetoric, Winfred Noth summarizes: ï¿½Semiotic and other recent approaches to rhetoric either have shown a renewed interest in rhetorical pragmatics or have restricted themselves to the system of rhetorical figures.ï¿½ (Noth, 1990: p.339) Zhao interprets that the latter aim is ï¿½to study the variants of the classic rhetoric in the non-linguistic sign system.ï¿½ (Zhao, 2010: p.187). Actually, ï¿½the variantsï¿½ and ï¿½non-linguistic sign systemï¿½ indicate that the semiotic rhetoric has extended the vehicle of dissemination from language or word to pan-sign system such as picture, voice or object etc.
Among all rhetoric devices, metaphor in a broader sense is ï¿½the most luminous and therefore the most necessary and frequentï¿½ (cited in Eco, 1984: p.87) and ï¿½all the other rhetoric devices are known as its variants.ï¿½(Zhao, 2010: p.188) Metaphor plays such an important role in classic rhetoric studies that ï¿½Aristotle even referred to all of the rhetoric devices with metaphorï¿½ (cited in Li, 2007: p.366) in which ï¿½the metaphor is a genus of which all the other tropes are species.ï¿½ (Eco, 1984: p.87) According to Lakoff and Johnson, ï¿½metaphor means metaphorical conceptï¿½ (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980: p.6 )which indicates ï¿½a cross-domain mapping in the conceptual systemï¿½(cited in Liu, 2006) with the essence of ï¿½understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of anotherï¿½ (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980: p.5 ) because ï¿½the human conceptual system is metaphorically structured and definedï¿½ (ibid: p.6 ) which is ï¿½not just a matter of language, that is, of mere words.ï¿½ (ibid: p.6 ) The notion of Lakoff and Johnson on the conceptual metaphor has exerted strong influence upon the semiotic rhetoric studies and has soon been adapted to pan-sign system by Semioticians. Zhao even argues that ï¿½the semiotic metaphor is ï¿½conceptual metaphorï¿½ unexceptionallyï¿½ (Zhao, 2011: p.187) after exploiting the adoption of metaphor in the dissemination channels like picture, object and voice and media such as film, performance, sport, match, advertising, music and e-game, and hence coming to the conclusion that metaphor is a popular device used for enforcing representability in all media and channels by a cross-media mapping between two conceptual domains that go beyond the confinement of language (ibid: p.188-189).
Metaphor in its narrower sense is technologically necessary as well as accessible in the specific usage so as to be distinguished from other rhetorical devices such as simile, metonymy and synecdoche etc. Wang defines metaphor as a trope that ï¿½connects different conceptual domains by resorting to familiar, visible, specific and ordinary concept to represent and understand the strange, invisible, abstract and extraordinary concept.ï¿½ (Wang, 2007: p.452) In folk culture, good fortune, ample salary, longevity, happy life and great wealth are the basic pursuit of human beings, but how to express these invisible and abstract concepts since paper-cut is a pictorial art which needs direct perception through the sense and specific image? The female folk-artists endeavor to express their abstract notions such as feeling, desire, attitude and faith with specific and common objects in their lives. Lakoff & Johnson regard the trope of expressing ï¿½ways of viewing events, activities, emotions, ideas etc.ï¿½ with specific ï¿½entities and substancesï¿½ as ï¿½ontological metaphorsï¿½ (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980: p.25). It is evident that these producers resort to ontological metaphor unconsciously. As a result, animals such as deer, monkey, birds such as crane, swallow, magpie, cock etc., and plants like the gourd, peach, persimmon, pomegranate, and bergamot are all borrowed to signify abstract connotation. For example, the pattern ï¿½a fish tasting lotusï¿½ is cut to connote the sexual love. The image of fish tasting lotus signifies an intimate touch of two different species which functions as a new signifier referring to sexual intercourse.
Actually, the mapping process of the source and target of metaphor is complex. Firstly, the two items of metaphor contains much more information than needed, that is, both of them have their own ï¿½semantic systemï¿½ (cited in Jia & Cheng, 2002) or semantic ï¿½structure schemataï¿½ (Lakoff & Turner, 1989: p.63) respectively. Secondly, the visual metaphor involves ï¿½a function of transference, transferring certain qualities from one sign to anotherï¿½ (Chandler, 2007), which means only are the relevant qualities amplified and projected in the interaction of metaphor. For instance, the semantic system of the gourd in Chinese culture covers many components such as plant, roundness, bottle-like, big belly, flat bottom, rich seeds, opening up and tool of Tiegui Li, a supernatural being. The semantic system of womb consists of female, body organ, roundness, big belly, baby room, source of life etc. The relevant elements are roundness, big belly and seeds and baby that would be amplified and projected in the metaphorical interaction of the two items. This, of course, is the ideal pattern of metaphorical interaction in which relevant qualities are projected as well as decoded fully and straightly just as the visual designer or artist himself expects.
Kittay, however, notes that both the source and target have their own semantic field separately, and the interaction between source and target are among the semantic fields in which not only are the elements concerned involved, but also other factors such as knowledge, belief, character, relation and structure, etc. (cited in Zhao, 2007: p.29) . Kittayï¿½s notion is more comprehensive which suits the actual metaphorical interaction of the paper-cuts in which meaning is never self-evident, that is, the decoding of the pattern of the paper-cuts are far from completion, thus ambiguity occurs. The mapping of the gourd upon the womb, for instance, is not confined to the relevant components, but the whole of the semantic field are implicated. So the interpretation of metaphor is of a little difficulty, which requires readers to be familiar with custom of the culture and to interpret its meaning in the light of the shared knowledge of the culture and custom as well as on the basis of the particular syntagmatic and paradigmatic context.
In addition, the particularity of paper-cut leads to ambiguity too. In language, both the source and target of metaphor appear in the sentence structure, which are connected by being, for instance, Life is a journey, whilst the source and linking word are all absent in the paper-cut, the target only being present. Still, paper-cut have been the product of an illiterate society with no caption or illustration, belonging to ï¿½images given without wordsï¿½ (Barthes, 1977: p. 40). Then how to interpret the meaning of paper-cut? It is clear that context plays an important role and the syntagmatic components of paper-cut are helpful in narrowing down the paradigmatic scope and anchoring meaning.
Here is a paper-cut of Longzhong on gourd taken as the example for illustrating the interpreting process. The syntagmatic pattern of the picture is as follows: a big gourd is in the middle with its mouth opening up and hip down, some leaves springing out from two sides of the body. In the upper body, the most prominent pattern is Guanqian surrounded by seedlings of cereal crops. A headstand Yuntou occupies the main part of the lower body while a small one is at its upward bottom. Six pairs of seedlings of cereal crops are at the bottom of the lower body. Guanqian is made up of four leaves and a diamond, a the symbol of genitalia in Chinese culture since about 8000 years ago when worship of the generative organs of the female is said to be popular. This primitive notion has been inherited in folk custom and art. The authors of the paper-cuts have been illiterate rural women in backward places who have acquired the notion and cutting craft from the elder granny in the limited environment, and then taught the craft to the next generation one on one, with little change. So paper-cut is a field of preserving culture and primitive notions, which succeeds the patterns of ancient painted pottery and accumulates profound cultural heritage.
Yuntou signifies the male genital organ for their formal similarity. Here the combination of male and female generative organs connote sexual intercourse and offspring propagation and the body of the gourd as a place where life begins and baby breeds, the notion of the womb. Therefore, the generative organs in the gourd project the reproductive meaning upon readers who are confined to interpret it in other ways. The leaves and seedlings of cereal crops connect the nature of the gourd as plant, and the growth of grass and leaves from the gourd hints it is the source of life. In addition, the gourd was rumored as the place where human beings came into being in the mythic legend of China. Meanwhile it is said that Fuxi and Nvwa, according to legend, the earliest ancestors of the Chinese people, were born in Qinï¿½an of Longzhong and who survived a storm assisted by a huge gourd while all other people drowned. For this reason, the brother and sister got married and gave birth to human beings. As a result, Chinese people have reverence for the gourd and look upon it as the source of life. In the picture, the mouth of the gourd is opening up, which indicates the access to the heaven, and thereby the opening up mouth becomes the symbol of the heavenly while the hip where grass grow refers to the earth. As a whole, the heavens, earth and man are together but coexist harmoniously where the heaven is up, the man is in the middle and the earth is at the bottom, so the gourd is the perfect metaphor of the universe.
Picture 2, Lu, 2000:p.125Picture 2 is for window decoration.
The pattern is made up of four plant gains which are: gourd at the bottom, pomegranate on the right, persimmon at the top and peach on the left, and each one of them is accompanied by its vine or leaves. Persimmon is pronounced as shi in Chinese, the homophone of shi , which means everything going well. The pomegranate is well known for its rich seeds so as to be the symbol of offspring generation and the flourishing of children . In ancient Chinese myth, Queen Mother of the Western Heaven liked the peach which kept her ever-young, and she has a large peach garden feasting her guests at her birthday party every year. Therefore, peach symbolizes longevity in Chinese folk culture.
Then what does the gourd mean here? Its syntagmatic elements do not permit us to associate its profound anthropological connotation, but guide our interpretation to popular folk culture meaning, wealth and longevity. Surely, the vitality and length of its vine endow it with powerful life force, hence the gourd represents life and longevity too. Furthermore, the feature of the vine makes it act as the model of Panchang that indicates the lasting of the wealth and life, so does the Chinese Knot.
Metaphor is defined classically as "the abbreviation of simile" (cited in Eco.1984: p.90), so simile can be looked upon as the extension of metaphor. From the cognitive perspective, metaphor originated in intuitive thinking of the primitives who still could not distinguish source\target definitely. The function of metaphor to the primitives was to find the similarities between things in an obscure way, so being was used as the linking word of the two items. While simile was the product of rational thinking of human beings when source\target were weighed independently of which both precise and essential differences were attempted to be identified, though identical qualities were emphasized too (Zhao, 2007: p.93-95). For instance, her face is like an apple. The presupposition of the simile is that face is not an apple, only identical with an apple in shape.
In Chandlerï¿½s opinion, "simile can be seen as a form of metaphor in which the figurative status of the comparison is made explicit through the use of the word ï¿½asï¿½ or ï¿½likeï¿½." (Chandler, 2007) But what if there is no connecting word in the pictorial sign? Perhaps it is the requirement of explicitness that results in the complication of simile for extra explanations have to be resorted in order to make the expressing easy to understand. Zhao confirms that "the trope in ads is inevitably simile since the picture and name of the product must display" (Zhao. 2011: p.191) together with some mythical seductive image that ads try to create, which reinforce the clarification of the expressing and anchorage of the meaning. In the sense, if Chandlerï¿½s notion of the visual metaphor involving "transferring certain qualities from one sign to another" is sensible and adapts to particular visual signs, extra hints are needed to make the certain qualities prominent so as to ensure the decoding successful. The extra hints, to a great extent, are linguistic message or object itself, and the visual signs here are possibly limited to ads. Therefore, Chandlerï¿½s "visual metaphor" might be treated as visual simile.
Zhao argues that "simile is more frequently adopted than metaphor in semiotic rhetoric though the boundary between them is obscure in comparison with the distinct and definite difference between linguistic simile and metaphor." (Zhao, 2011: p.192) Zhao also describes the character of simile as "associating the target with the absent source compulsorily" (ibid: p.191) in a particular culture and "forces readers to interpret it in a unique way" (ibid) by the shared knowledge of the culture and custom. Simile is frequently used in the Longzhong paper-cut and the compulsory principle of semiotic simile adapts to its expressive approach completely.
The color of paper-cut is regulated in Longzhong culture, red paper-cut signifies festivities, yellow paper-cut is used in sacred situations and have matching dieties, white paper-cut is for ghosts, ancestors and relatives who are much lower in social position in comparison with deities, so the transgressive use of the yellow paper-cut would beget severe punishment from the deities that must destroy the soul of the died relatives. On the other hand, the transgressive enjoyment of the yellowness itself would shorten or exhaust their fortune since fate is to be obeyed but never to be violated in Chinese tradition even if the deities are benevolent enough to forgive the transgressing action. Blackness and blueness are signs to express mourning and missing of the dead, therefore paper clothing, quilt and other articles of daily use are always made of black and blue, which are burnt on 1st October to help the dead fight against coldness in winter.
Shadow puppet, a product of paper-cut becoming mature, exercises simile mostly because its purpose is to achieve the immediate effect of inviting the audience to interpret the characters correctly in a limited span of time. The facial structure of the literate is different from that of the warrior so that audiences can identify their role at once and see what will happen later, necessary for the cultivation of a dramatic atmosphere. For instance, the literateï¿½s eyes are sculpted as a lying fish with two soft eyebrows and a straight nose, whilst a warriorï¿½s eyes must be round, eyebrow being vertically up in company with a hawk nose.
According to Eco, ï¿½metonymy is spoken as substitutions of two terms for each other according to a relation of contiguity(where contiguity is a rather fuzzy concept insofar as it covers the relation of cause\effect, container\content, instrument for operation, place of origin for original object, emblem for object emblematized, and so on.)ï¿½ (Eco. 1984: p. 90) The source and target of metaphor bear no apparent relation whilst metonymy ï¿½involves using one signified to stand for another signified which is directly related to it or closely associated with it in some way.ï¿½(Chandler, 2007). The employment of metonymy in the Longzhong paper-cut is widespread, and an explanation is necessary on the basis of different substitution categories.
A lantern in the Longzhong paper-cut is always used to refer to light. The relationship between the source and target is of adjacency or container\content in a more specific sense, thus the figure of speech here is metonymy. In the traditional pattern of the Eight Immortals, who are characters in ancient Chinese myth, only are the instruments of these eight immortals cut such as gourd, fan, lotus, flute, flower basket, jade plate, percussion and sword. Sometimes two or three instruments are cut while the others are omitted, but the function remains the same. Instruments are closely associated with their hosts, so it is metonymy to represent the immortals with their instruments. Apart from metonymy, synecdoche is also adopted if there are only partial instruments in a pattern in order to signify all the instruments of the eight immortals. It is evident that two or more figures of speech can be invited in a pattern simultaneously.
Picture 3 has two syntagmatic layers of which the first one is made up of a flowerpot decorated with a plum, some leaves and buds stretching out from the two sides. Two blossoming lotuses are in the middle upon which are two clusters of leaves. This is the outline of the paper-cut at the first glance. If the readers are patient enough, the second syntagm will be discovered, which consists of three parts. At the bottom, it is ï¿½the Flower of Deer Headï¿½ (Jin, 1994: p. 206), a proper name addressed by Mr. Jin Zhilin, a folklorist in China, who has made an ethnological study of Chinese paper-cuts and entitled the pattern as the Flower of Deer Head for it is the heritage of totem deer worship. There are two lotuses blossoming on the head of the deer, and two images of a man growing out of the lotuses whose head is dressed with flame.
By interpreting the pattern, it is easy to find that the author takes advantage of many rhetorical devices to express the profound cultural connotation. The first is exaggeration which recreates boldly the form of leaves and deer, distorts the position of flower and leaves, and links flower and leaves with the image of man. In this way, the worship of the totem, plant and sun are combined coherently together. Metonymy is the second figure of speech that symbolizes the sun with flame to indicate the importance of the sun in the development of life. The third one is a metaphor that signifies the totem deer with the flower pot. Simultaneously, the flower pot also refers to womb that generates life. Lotus is always the symbol of female because of the similar form between female genital and lotus petal, hence analogy is used. The last one is simile that employs redness to show the happy festival atmosphere, thus the paper-cut functions as window decoration or lantern decoration for Shehuo during Spring Festival.
Eco describes synecdoche as a "substitution of two terms for each other according to a relation of greater or lesser extension (part for the whole, whole for the part, species for the genus, singular for plural, or vice versa)" (Eco, 1984, :90). In the Longzhong paper-cut, however, the directionality of synecdoche application is restricted to part for whole, species for the genus, singular for plural, and not vice versa. Jakobson notes that the contiguity principle is the base upon which both metonymy and synecdoche function (cited in Chandler, 2007). Actually, the source and target of metonymy share Synecdoche in the Longzhong paper-cut includes the substitution as follows:
Substitution of part for whole is more popular than others in the Longzhong paper-cut. In a broader sense, all paper-cuts belong to this category since only can one part or one side of an object be represented. Besides, there are at least three layers of signification system in the Longzhong paper-cut. The signifier of the first layer cocontiguity more while the two items of synecdoche are of homogeneity rather than contiguity.nsists of the direct image of the object appearing in the pattern which signifies its denotative signifier, and then the signifier and signified form a second signifier that produce connotation, thusly the second signification system comes into being. The second signifier and signified make joint effort to create myth, hence the third layer of signification system generate (Barthes, 1999: p.173). The final signified or myth must be ideological. One paper-cut, however, contributes simply part of these ideologies though its purpose is to represent and advocate the whole feudalism ideologies such as loyalty and filial piety of Confucianism, Yinyang technique and five rules of Taoism or Karma of Buddhism.
The signifier of the first layer of signification in Picture 4, Wang Xiang Melting ice with his Belly, consists of a paradox image with a man lying on his chest, three fish swimming toward him, splitting ice at the bottom, two butterflies and a flower at the top, which signifies denotative meaning, Wang wants to melt ice in a cold winter to catch some fish. The first signifier and its signified constitute the second signifier that connotes his filial piety, which is seen as positive behavior so that butterflies fly to celebrate and flower blossoms as reward. In order to understand the connotation, a Chinese legend must be familiar firstly. Wang was a filial son and attempted to satisfy his motherï¿½s appetite of tasting fish in a cold winter day, the ice on the river was too thick to break, he had no choice but lay down on his chest to melt the ice with his own body heat. His filial behavior touched a god who passed by and broke the ice with magic, so Wang caught the fish finally. The second signifier and signified form the third signifier which signifies the final signified, myth, tyranny is reasonable and natural, obeying its authority with a devoted attitude and heart.
In a narrower sense, synecdoche is also employed commonly, for example, the generating organ is used to connote a person who is male or female (synecdoche), the intercourse and population reproduction (metonymy), especially the genital organ of female with its variants appearing in most of the paper-cut patterns. The other two substitutions of species for the genus, singular for plural are also adopted frequently. For instance, a tree represents all plants, a peach indicates all peaches.
Homophone is defined as ï¿½a word that sounds the same as another word but has its own spelling, meaning and origin is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaningï¿½ in Macmillan English Dictionary. Homophone is based on psychological misunderstanding and association since double layers of meaning are projected. In the Longzhong paper-cut, homophone is preferred by the local people so as to become a popular expressing way. For instance, bat is in Chinese, which is pronounced as bian fu. Since (fu) is the homophone of (fu) that means good fortune. Therefore, the bat is a popular pattern in folk paper-cuts to convey good wishes. Not only in decorating paper-cuts is bat commonly used, it also appears in worship streamers just as picture 5 shows, in which four bats are flying together to the central direction where a lotus is blossoming. Lotus not only signifies female genital as mentioned above. Moreover, it has a profound connotation in Buddhism and is called ï¿½the Flower of Buddhismï¿½ for its feature of growing in mud, but never contaminating with it. So the living persons, by using homophone, place hope on the pattern that the dead would go to the Western Paradise after death where he or she could enjoy a life full of fu.
Paper-cut 6 consists of a deer, a crane and a tree, which is named Lu-he-chun ( ) in Chinese. Lu means six, the homophone of deer, denotes the six directions such as heaven, earth, east, south, west and north. The six directions indicate the whole world, he ( ), the homophone of (crane), refers to harmony, the sprouting and growing of leaves of the tree symbolize the coming of Spring. For the reason, the composition of the pattern connotes that Spring comes, the heaven, earth and men are all immersed in a flourishing situation. Furthermore, the pattern also hints peopleï¿½s desire of living in a harmonious world and everything going smoothly. By representing abstract notion of with more specific objects it is evident that the pattern is typical in projecting abstract concepts upon specific objects by borrowing homophone.
As discussed above, figures of speech are employed by producers of the Longzhong paper-cut to express their desires and ideas that are nurtured in the particular living environment, sensed instinctively by the female folk-artists and constructed in the long history of womenï¿½s social position transition and family-centered identity stabilization. Furthermore, the prevailing ideologies such as loyalty and the filial piety of Confucianism, Yinyang technique and five rules of Taoism and Karma of Buddhism have also penetrated in the mind of the producers. All these elements constitute the content that the Longzhong paper-cuts attempt to represent. By studying the rhetorical devices in paper-cuts, we seek to interpret the mapping meaning of the patterns so as to trace back the psychological development of regional mentalities in Chinese history.