Shanxi Evergreen Service exists to assist Shanxi and other Chinese provinces by developing public benefit services for the common people, continuing the good works of Ye Yongqing (Leaf Evergreen, i.e. Peter Torjesen), acknowledging God's gracious calling in our lives, and reflecting the credibility of Christ. For more information about Evergreen, click here .
Evergreen Cards is a rural economic development project that was founded by Evergreen team members to provide women with a source of supplemental income and to touch their lives in a tangible way with the love of God.
Invited into Shanxi Province by the local government to help with social and economic needs, Evergreen’s founders immediately began investigating what those needs were and the most locally-appropriate ways to respond to each. What evolved are several areas of professional service in which Evergreeners now serve based on the needs of the community in which they live.
The Evergreen field staff in China hold ongoing planning and evaluation meetings to determine whether or not the current areas of professional services being provided meet the ongoing needs of the local communities, and then, redefine them as needed. These professional service areas then help determine our need for additional team members, as well as help us focus on projects that will best serve each community into the future. We currently serve in three locations in Shanxi Province, through seven identified areas of professional service.
History and Description of the Project
Shanxi Evergreen Service developed this hand-cut card project in 2004 to primarily serve families living in rural areas outside of Yangqu in Shanxi Province, China. The average annual per capita income in these village areas is only $250, but with an investment of less than $5 to buy a knife, wax board, and sharpening stone, a woman can learn the skill of paper-cutting and can then significantly improve her family’s economic situation.
The opportunity to earn an income by producing these valuable and beautiful greeting cards and laminated bookmarks is both a tremendous blessing and a clear demonstration of the skill and determination of Shanxi women to provide for their families.
Registered in China as a Wholly-Owned Foreign Enterprise in 2006, Evergreen Cards Ltd. currently has approximately 35 women working from their homes cutting cards.
Profits generated from the sale of these cards are used to further develop this project and to assist other low-income families through Evergreen's scholarship and Regional Educational Development programs.
Paper cutting is one of China’s most traditional folk arts. Archaeological finds have traced it back to the 6th century, but others would argue that it can be associated with the development of paper in China several centuries earlier. Paper cutting has traditionally been done by women and girls. This was originally a skill that girls were expected to master and was used to judge their worthiness as brides. Professional paper cutters, however, were almost always men who had guaranteed incomes and worked together in workshops.
In the past, paper cuts have also been used for religious purposes. Paper objects and figures used to be buried with the dead or were burned during funeral ceremonies. Paper cuttings were also used as decorations for sacrificial offerings to ancestors and gods. During special festivals such as the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year), paper cuts were pasted on entry gates for good luck.
Paper cuts are produced by hand, either with scissors or engraving knives. Several layers of thin tissue-like paper are put together, then folded. They are then cut into various designs with very small pointed scissors. In knife cutting, the artist puts several layers of paper on a wax board made of tallow and ash. The knife is held vertically, and following a pattern, the artist cuts the design into the paper.
Paper-cut designs are centered around Chinese folk motifs. These include the twelve animals of the lunar calendar: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and boar. Other common figures include Chinese characters, flowers, plants, animals, birds, butterflies, etc.
Today, paper cuttings are used primarily as decorations on windows, walls, doors, etc. They can be seen decorating the homes of newlywed couples, celebrating the birth of a child, or welcoming the New Year. New paper-cut artists are also developing this traditional handcraft in new ways. A Christian paper-cut artist, whose works have been internationally exhibited, personally trained Evergreen’s first class of paper cutters and created some beautiful paper cuts with Biblical themes. We are privileged to be able to incorporate some of her designs into our cards.
Evergreen Cards is overseen by Evergreen team members with experience in economic development and marketing. The business is locally managed by a Chinese Evergreen Card employee, assisted by a bookkeeper, and a part-time Chinese accountant.