Daur paper-cut artist promotes ethnic culture
Historically, the Daur people have developed many forms of art deeply influenced by their distinct ethnic characteristics. Their paper-cutting art, especially Hanêka, a kind of paper toy, is an outstanding example of this.
Su Mei, a master of Daur paper-cut art and the inheritor of the Hanêka intangible cultural heritage, draws great inspiration from the life of Daur people and vividly reflect thems in her works, making them not merely artworks but conduits of the culture.
Born in the Daur autonomous banner of Morin Dawa, North China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region, in 1967, Su Mei was taught by her mother to make Hanêka at the age of six and was instantly fascinated.
Showing great interest in the field and a particular talent for fine arts, Su began to learn drawing systematically in secondary school. After graduating from high school, she became a professional artist in the fine arts department of the cultural center in her hometown. She then devoted herself to improving her professional knowledge and skills to enrich the form and connotations of her works.
In 1995, Su took part in the 4th World Conference on Women and demonstrated Hanêka-making to guests there. Her exquisite craftsmanship and gorgeous works won her the honor of being one of the “Chinese deft women”, an accolade bestowed by the All-China Women's Federation.
After graduating from the Fine Arts Department of Heilongjiang Institute of Education in 1998, she further crafted other paper-cut works to carry forward Daur customs and tell the stories of other cultural backgrounds.
In 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008, her works won a series of top awards in several national paper-cutting competitions and gained widespread praise and recognition. She also demonstrated the beauty of Hanêka and creative process at the Shanghai Expo in 2010, as well as at many foreign cultural exchange activities in recent years.
Besides delivering lectures and giving handicraft lessons on Hanêka, Su often consults folk artists for advise on perfecting and inheriting Daur paper-cutting art. Thus, she has stayed true to her love of Hanêka as a young girl by taking up the craft as her lifelong pursuit.