Yanchuan Education | Planning

Yanchuan County Middle & Primary School Paper-cutting Art Curriculum

Time: 2006


The Great Survey — Yanchuan Primary School Papercutting Art Curriculum

Project Overview


Yanchuan County is located to the northeast of Yan’an city. The county has jurisdiction over eight towns, nine townships and 346 administrative villages with a total population of 169,700 people of which 144,000 are rural agricultural workers; the count cover a total area of 1,941 km2. In terms of economic development, is designated as one of Western China’s poverty counties, but it has intactly preserved the original Yellow River ecological folk culture of the Chinese nation.


Yanchuan has a long history. The county was established in the third year of the Reign of Kaihuang during the Sui Dynasty over 1,400 years ago. At that time the county seat took its name from the ancient name of the river that flows through it: “Tu Yan Shui”. Yanchuan is the home of Fuxi, one of the legendary fathers of the Chinese nation. The S-shaped bend in the Yellow River in the county inspired Fuxi to invent the Eight Trigrams of Taoism and the theory of Yin and Yang, forming the distant basis for the Yellow River culture. There is evidence of human settlements and societies even further back, and for thousands of years the county was the site of ethnic intermingling and immense transformations, over time developing into the unique culture and historical style of the Loess Plateau. Cloth paste painting, papercutting and other folk-art traditions are among the most prominent forms of a Loess Plateau culture that is exceedingly rich and deep, which has led Yanchuan to be designated as “the hometown of modern national folk art” by the Ministry of Culture.

From 2003-2004, after one year of preparation and research and through with the support and consultation of renowned folk culture research Jin Zhilin, the Long March team traveled to Yanchuan County and worked with the county government to conduct a half year investigation entitled, the “Great Survey of Papercuttings in Yanchuan County”, creating a large scale archive of papercuttings for folk art history.  At the same time, through continual promotion and exhibition of the project, the papercuttings of Yanchuan County are already well renowned in 20 countries throughout the world, effectively opening up a door for Chinese folk art internationally, as well as achieving an effective promotion and development for folk art industry in Yanchuan County.

Based upon the results of the 2004 survey, the Long March Project will continue to promote Chinese folk art through the initiation of the Long March Project – Yanchuan County Primary School Papercutting Art Curriculum.  If “The Great Survey of Papercuttings in Yanchuan County” is a large scale investigatory social project, then “The Yanchuan County Primary School Papercutting Art Curriculum” is a pilot art education project whose purpose is to research how ethnic culture and customs are transmitted through the generations, and how folk art can effectively return to people’s everyday lives.  The education initiative is not simply about training to produce a specific papercutting pattern.  Rather it is that these seemingly simple papercutting patterns contain ethnic cultural values.  A myth, a story, they are all linked with Chinese traditional culture.  This transmission is effected through a visual method (papercutting) and passed down to the next generation.  This is an invaluable resource to the future development of Chinese culture.  A concern for the art education of traditional art forms is particularly important in our commercialized and material society.  Through the practice of papercuttings it is possible to teach the long history of Chinese aesthetics, as well as its ethical and social values. 

For these reasons, the Long March Project will carryout the “The Yanchuan County Primary School Papercutting Art Curriculum” Project.  The project will be carried out for three years, from 2006-2009.  A pilot program will be initiated in four to six schools in the region.  Utilizing the powerful culture of papercuttings in Sha’anbei and especially Yanchuan, the Long March will organize a papercutting art curriculum as well as youth activities.  Through training primary school students and youths, and their contact and learning of papercuttings, the project will develop their understanding and interest for traditional culture.  Over the course of these three years, we plan to invite leading folk culture researchers and artists to act as consultants and board members for the project who will annually evaluate and give suggestions regarding the project.  The final curriculum will include: An overall outline for primary school papercutting art curriculum, a set of CD’s for teaching papercuttings, video and photography records of process, and a catalog which will be presented to the National Education Department and the Cultural Ministry for their consultation and use in developing national education policy.  Aside from this, the Long March project will promote this project through exhibition and lectures throughout China and internationally, enabling more people to understand Yanchuan County’s papercutting education policy, the papercuttings of Yanchuan and Yanchuan County. 

Project dates:  September 2006 – September 2009
Project Initiator:  Long March Space (Beijing)
Co-organizer:  Long March Foundation (New York)
Project Organizer:  Yanchuan County, Sha’anxi Province

Project Phase 1
Dates:  June 2006 – February 2007

  1. Carryout investigations and site visits.  Present proposal to local government and gain their support of the project
  2. Visit the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts, and the Sha’anxi Immaterial Cultural Heritage Research Center and other professionals, scholars, folk culture educators to gain an understanding of this project through consultation and review of previous experiences and models for folk art education.  This will also include field investigation to understand and summarize the unique cultural ecology of Sha’anbei region, obtaining first hand material for papercutting curriculum, and development of the curriculum outline.
  3. Investigating the possible schools for pilot projects and programs, including the teaching resources, the support and strength of support by the local cultural ministry and education bureau, as well as the acceptance of folk art and its education by local students and population.
  4. Discussion with Yanchuan County Government and contents:
    1. Decide upon the schools for pilot projects
    2. Art teacher training time tables
    3. Determine the organization structure for this project, the Advisory Committee, as well as have Yanchuan County government notify all lower departments involved with this project of the project’s implementation
    4. Placing signs at each of the project sites
  5. Beijing: Project launch press conference

People invited:  professionals, scholars and other folk culture educators.  Representatives from the Cultural Ministry, National Education Department, Central Academy of Fine Arts and related governmental agencies, as well as the Long March Project, Ford Foundation, Yanchuan County representatives and the Beijing media will be invited. 

Project Structure                             

Project consultant:  Jin Zhilin  Professor Central Academy of Fine Arts, researcher folk art
Project director:     Lu Jie  director Long March Project
Executive director: Xiao Xiong  Artistic director  Long March Project

Official Leader Group:
Director:            Yan Chuanzhu  Vice-mayor Yanchuan County
Vice-director:   Xiao Xiong  artist director Long March Project
                            Gao Hebin  Yanchuan County Office Manager

Committee Members:
Zhang Zhenhong    Chief Education Department, Yanchuan County
He Ping                 Chairman Yanchuan County Yellow River Cultural Development and Preservation Association
Yang Zhulin           Deputy director, Education Bureau  Yanchuan County
Liu Fuxiang            Director, Youth Activity Center, Yanchuan County
Yang Guoqiang      Director, Education Department, Yanchuan County
He Siming              Principal, Yanchuan County Number Two Middle School
Bai Cuicui              Principal, Yanchuan County Beiguan Elementary School
Guo Shengjun        Principal , Central Middle School Tugangxiang Yanchuan County
Ma Yansheng         Principal, Yongping Town Central Elementary School, Yanchuan County

Project office:
Manager:               Yang Zulin 
Deputy Manager:  Liu Fuxiang

Project Advisory Board:
Qiao Xiaoguang     Director, Immaterial Cultural Legacy Institute, Central Academy of Fine Arts
Dong Sanqiao        Director, Immaterial Cultural Legacy Institute, Sha’anxi Province
Liu Pingan             Dean, Lu Xun Art School, Yan’an University
Feng Yanming        vice-Dean, Lu Xun Art School, Yan’an University
Guo Qingfeng        Researcher, Local Culture Research Center, Xi’an Art Academy
Feng Shanyun        Researcher, Yanchuan County Folk Art Research Center
Gao Fenglian         Artist

Local Professional Team:
Liu Jieqiong, Liu Xiaojuan, Feng Ruimei, Guo Lingling, He Cailian, He Caihong, Feng Caiqin, He Xiuzhen, Guo Ruixian

Project Schools:
Yanchuan County Number Two Middle School, Yanchuan County Beiguan Elementary School, Central Middle School Tugangxiang Yanchuan County, Yongping Town Central Elementary School, Yanchuan County