HOME >> Souvenirs >> Paper Cut

Paper cuts, though named from paper, can also be caused by other thin, stiff materials, such as aluminium foil, thin blades of grass, or film negatives.

Although a loose paper sheet is usually too soft to cut, it can be very thin (sometimes as thin as a razor edge), being then able to exert high levels of pressure, enough to cut the skin. Paper cuts are most often caused by paper sheets that are strongly fastened together (such as brand new paper out of a ream), because one single paper sheet might be dislocated from the rest. Thus all the other sheets are holding this dislocated sheet in position, and the very small part held away from the rest can be stiff enough to act as a razor.

Paper cuts can cause surprisingly acute pain since they usually stimulate a large number of skin surface pain receptors (nociceptors) in a very small area of the skin. Because the shallow cut does not bleed very much, the pain receptors are left open to the air, ensuring continued pain. This is exacerbated by irritation caused by the fibers in the paper itself, which may be coated in chemicals such as bleach. Additionally, most paper cuts occur in the fingers, which have a greater concentration of sensory receptors than the rest of the body.

The random orientation of collagen fibers in skin provides the ability to withstand pinpoint forces. However, skin does not have the same strength against shearing forces, and is easily cut. The same principle can be applied to performers that stand on blades.

A paper cut includes three kinds: Figures in paper cut, customs in paper cut and animals in paper cut.

1. Figures in paper-cuts

Number of historical figures, like the four ancient beauties, the hereoes in Four Great Ancient Chinese Novels, namely, Dream of Red Mansions, Pilgrim to the west, Heroes of the Marsh, and Romance of the three kingdoms, appear in folk artists' works very frequently.

2. Customs in paper-cut

The folk artists have created a number of paper-cuts to reflect their customs in the artistic way. The following are some of the customs in North China's Shaanxi Province.

3. Animals in paper-cut

Animals are always a favourite subject folk artists like to portray in their paper-cuts. The twelve zodiac animals, the legendary phoenix, and little kids playing with animals, as shown below, are the most common subjects.