Wycinanki (vee-chee-non-kee) is a Polish version of the art form of papercutting.
Wycinanki in Poland originated with sheepherders cutting designs out of tree bark and leather. Paper wycinanki dates from the early to mid 19th century. Colorful wycinanki were pasted on furniture or roof beams as decoration, hung in windows, and given as gifts.
Wycinanki vary by region. For example, wycinanki created in the Kurpie region are typically all one color, while wycinanki from the Łowicz region are multi-colored. Techniques include cutting, clipping, punching, tearing and carving of paper as well as nalepianki in which multiple layers are glued together.
Subject matter includes peacocks, roosters and other birds, circular or star-shaped medallions (gwiazdy), flowers, and decorative scenes depicting particular yearly events such as Easter, Christmas, and so on. In some towns and villages competitions evolved to create the most beautiful wycinanki. Traditionally done as relaxation in rural areas of Poland, the techniques were passed down from generation to generation, with new themes and ideas developing as the papercuttings became more detailed and intricate.
One of the most famous person creating Wycinanki these days is Malgorzata Belkiewicz, who crafts folk as well as her own artistic patterns in paper.