Daur paper cuts

Themed paper cut work: Kuml-picking, Lurgel and Mukulien

Updated: Dec 9, 2019 Print
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Kuml-picking [Photo provided by Su Mei]

Kuml, a culinary ingredient meaning artemisia integrifolia in Daur, plays an important role in Daur traditional cuisine. As a kind of green waterside plant, it has long, thin and edible stems and leaves. Although it tastes a little bitter, kuml has a fragrant smell and heat-clearing effect, and thus is mostly stewed with fish, pork, beef or mutton to help digest the grease.

Daur women pick the kuml in the fourth lunar month. At this time, the elder women would firstly set a date for picking and call together the younger ones. Taking their wicker baskets, they spent the time picking while chatting, singing and dancing, welcoming the spring. 

Lurgel, a kind of the Daur traditional folk singing and dancing [Photo provided by Su Mei]
Dancing with elegant shadow [Photo provided by Su Mei]

Based on the Daur traditional folk singing and dancing, Su Mei made two paper-cut works: one is named after it, Lurgel, and the other is Dancing with elegant shadow. Lurgel, which in Daur language means “flourishing” or “thriving”, is mostly performed by two groups of women in a competing form during festivals without instrumental accompaniment. The performance consists of three parts: the first one is slow and mild singing, in the second part the women start to dance to joyful short songs, and the last is the most “furious” part for the two groups will dance like battling until one of them “takes a dive”.

The boundless sunshine, which illustrates a Daur woman in traditional clothing playing Mukulien, the buccal reed. [Photo provided by Su Mei]

Mukulien is the name of the Daur buccal reed and was mostly played by women in ancient times. It is 10 centimeters long and shaped like a pincer. Although low in volume and narrow in register, the mukulian has a mild timbre and is applied to soft music to express the sentiment of nostalgia.

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