by Joseph and Yehudit Shadur

Traditional Jewish Papercuts

After randomly wandering into this exhibit at the American Folk Art Museum in New York I have been slightly obsessed with Jewish papercuts. Maybe being Jewish has a tiny bit to do with it although I am totally non-practicing. I just think they are so so awesome. The patterns alone are really amazing and intricate but the animals integrated into them are my favorite part. Sometimes they are really naively drawn- almost like blobs with legs or children’s drawings. I was reading in this book that a lot of the paper cutters were not good at drawing so they would make tracings from books and make cardboard cut outs from those and the more they transfered the drawing, the more distorted they got. All of the animals and things in the images are there for a reason- some sort of symbolism. This book has a whole section where it tells you what each of the things means- crowns, knots, lamps, lions, gazelles, griffins, storks, zodiac signs. Mostly they are some sort of references to the Torah. The other thing that makes these papercuts so beautiful is that they are old. The paper has yellowed, the colors have faded, parts may be ripped or curling over making them that much more precious. I am so inspired by these and have been scheming to create designs that reference these. I just got this book so I haven’t had time to really read it but I am so excited to get into it. (Other books I’ve posted of papercutters here, here and here.) You can get this book here.

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