Wycinanki, pronounced Vee-chee-non-kee is the Polish word for 'paper-cut design'. Just when and why this art form began to flower in Poland seems a matter of some uncertainty. Some say it goes back to the time when few farm houses had glass windows. To keep out the elements, peasant farmers hung sheep skins over the window openings. Then, to let in some light and air, they took their sheep shears and snipped small openings in the skins, and these were soon recognized as decorative as well as functional.
The most well known modern styles of Wycinanki comes from two districts. One is the Kurpie cut out. This is usually a symmetrical design, cut from a single piece of colored paper, folded a single time, with spruce trees and birds as the most popular motifs. The second style comes from the area of Lowicz. It is distinguished by the many layers of brightly colored paper used in its composition.
The unique richness of paper-cut designs done in the Polish tradition is a special contribution to the artistic heritage of the world.
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