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Paper Crafting Technique

Paper Crafting Technique

Paper crafting technique is a folk art with a long history. A craftsman only needs bamboo strips, bamboo splints, wire, tissue paper for binding and silk fabrics for mounting to form three-dimensional structures. They are then painted and assembled to form models of any shape and colour for use in religious ceremonies as offerings, or as festive decorations.

History of the Paper Crafting Industry in Hong Kong

Paper-crafted products are indispensable items in traditional festivals, ancestral worship and birthdays of deities in everyday life. They play an equally significant role in traditional customs in Hong Kong. As such, the technique has been passed down from generation to generation. As early as the 19th century, local religious practices already adopted the use of paper-crafted products, and the flourishing growth of the industry began in the early 20th century. There were many shops making and selling paper-crafted products. Workers formed the Hong Kong & Kowloon Candle, Paper and Paper-work Workers Union to protect their rights. Between the 1920s and 1960s, occasional news stories about the Union fighting for their members’ rights could be found in local newspapers.

Towards the end of the 1940s, many paper-craft masters on the Mainland China moved to Hong Kong. This helped boost the development of the trade, and for the next three decades, the paper crafting industry in Hong Kong enjoyed phenomenal growth, with professionals in the field earning reasonably good income. Lanterns, in particular, were so popular among foreign tourists that handcrafted lanterns were regularly exported to the United Kingdom, the United States, Sweden, Canada and other places since the 1960s.

But as time changes and with urbanisation, the scale of ritual activities for birthdays of deities, the Yu Lan Festival etc. continues to shrink. The lanterns and mechanically-driven displays etc. that used to be seen everywhere are rare nowadays. Sales of paper-crafted products have been on a downward trend, and this is aggravated by the highly competitive influx of mass production from the Mainland factories. The industry has suffered so much that it can no longer attract young blood. To counter this, some local paper-crafting masters are seeking innovative channels to promote their trade, such as organising paper crafting workshops for the general public and students in conjunction with various organisations. Some are also attempting to revamp the modelling with trendy designs so as to create new paper-crafted works that would have modern appeal. In doing so, they are injecting new life into this folk art.


  • Paper-crafted ornaments

  • A craftsman was drawing patterns on to a lantern

  • Paper crafting master is making a large palace ...

  • Fa pau