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The art of paper cutting is almost 1500 years old. It emerged right after paper was invented in Chi-
na in the 2nd century. The first
known Chinese articles made of cut paper are dated back to the 7th century.
This new fine art spread through
the countries of the Eurasian continent from China through Japan by route of the Silk Way. In Italy, Spain, Eng-land, Germany and Russia, the
art of paper cutting first belonged to the elite but in the 13th — 17th centu-ries it became affordable to the general population.
Many nations of Eastern Europe consider paper-cut pictures their original decorative and applied art, but they have different names for them. In Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, thesepictures are called
“vystriganki”, “vytsipyanki”, and “vytynanki”.
East-European Jews borrowed the art of paper cutting from their neigh-bors and lovingly called their articles of applied art “REIZELEH” - “rosette” in Yiddish. The delicately cut paper miracle resembles a flower.
Before you reizeleh from Ukraine The central part of the “reizeleh” is a
crown - the symbol of the power of the Almighty, bellow it there are hands
of Cohens stretched out for the blessing. Next to a chanukkiya is a stork that has caught a snake - this plot is borrowed from Ukrainian ceramic decorations and in the Jewish context is understood as a righteous man that has overcome the evil.
5772 (SEPTEMBER 2011—SEPTEMBER 2012)