Handcrafted Guanyin Paper-Cut

Relationship: Im/migrant

When my grandfather found out my mother was about to embark on an adventure for a new life in America, he found himself at a loss for words to express his best wishes. As a soldier, he was never required much eloquence other than barking orders. However, my grandfather had a knack for the arts, particularly carving. One of his specialties was paper-cutting, a Chinese art form that has traversed many borders as far as Mexico's papel picado. My grandfather then decided he wanted to bless my mom with guidance and strength to make good and right choices making her new home. Many Taiwanese people found those things through religion, Taiwanese Buddhism. Combine this background with my grandfather's talent and he found his next project - a paper-cut of Guanyin, a Buddhist deity known as the "Goddess of Mercy." After cutting each painstaking detail of the goddess's figure and robes, he added a message, also handwritten, as a blessing for my parents. This likeness hangs above our calendars. Whenever she needs to plan something or looks upon a looming event, she looks up to her grandfather's work and her spirituality to seek for some wisdom and strength to forge ahead. Early on, the portrait moved much, from basements to her cousin's house to apartments, signaling the volatility in my parents' lives. Now, it has hung in our house for so long that the paper turned yellow from the sunlight; my family is settled and happy. 

Place(s): Taiwan
Year: 1998

– Alex

Relationship:  Im/migrant Im/migrant