Celebrating Time-Honored Traditions

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To prepare for the New Year, families clean and decorate their homes with flowers, couplets, and colorful paper cut-outs. The designs of this form of Chinese folk art depict messages of good luck and blessings, flowers and plants, and meaningful symbols for the New Year. This year, AARP is proud to be honoring this long-time tradition with the work of renowned paper cutting artist, Yumei Hou.

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Posterity is a smiling tigress, with the word “shou” on her head, which means longevity. The ears and eyes are cut with two longevity peaches to represent health and happiness. The zigzag pattern along her back represents a happy family reunion, the homophony of the word together. There is a little tiger on the tigress’ belly, and a little tiger on the other side, because a tiger has two children in her lifetime, which signifies someone will succeed. Sunflowers on the chest represent hope and a bright future. The life peach on the inside of the tiger’s leg means that everyone in the family is healthy and long-lived!

Yu Mei Hou

Yumei Hou is a sculptor and renowned master of the ancient Chinese art of paper cutting. Her passion and skills for art were inherited through three generations of artists. Hou has dedicated decades to learning, perfecting, and passing on the art of paper cutting in China and the United States. Her talent and dedication were recognized by the San Francisco Arts Commission in 2010 when she was selected to design and install a building-wide art piece for the Chinatown Central Subway, scheduled to open in 2022.