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Papel picado


Papel Picado
Photo by Suzanne Barbezat

Papel picado is a traditional folk art from Mexico that involves cutting out intricate patterns on colorful tissue paper. The tissue paper is then glued to a string in a line to form banners which are used as decorations for important festivities throughout the year.

Artisans may study for years to learn to make papel picado in its traditional form. Originally the paper was laboriously cut with scissors. Now up to 50 sheets of tissue paper can be cut at a time, using a hammer and chisel. An infinite variety of patterns and designs are made in papel picado: flowers, birds, lettering, people and animals and lattice-work patterns. For Day of the Dead, skulls and skeletons are depicted.

Originally tissue paper was used to make papel picado, but it's becoming common to use plastic sheets, which makes for longer-lasting papel picado, particularly when used out-of-doors. See a plaza adorned with papel picado: Guadalajara's Plaza de los Mariachis.

Pronunciation: pah-pell pee-ka-doh
Also Known As: Cut paper, perforated paper
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