Origami is an intriguing Japanese art, in which a square paper is folded to form animate or inanimate models, that too without glue or any cut.

In Japanese language oru means “to fold” and kami means “paper”.

EXCEPTIONS: Few origami models start with rectangular or triangular paper. And, some of the origami models have small cuts.

Base In Origami:

Another intriguing thing about origami is using a single base different models can be folded. But, not all models start with a base.

The following are the standard base:  

Origami Paper:

Traditionally, washi paper was used to make origami. It is made from the bark of gampi tree. The washi paper is generally patterned.

One side colored and the other side white paper is widely used to make origami models as washi paper is not easily available everywhere. Also, dual colored paper is also used.

The size of origami paper range from 2.5 cm to more than 25 cm. The standard size of origami paper is 15 cm.

An interesting aspect of origami is if the paper is not available then any kind of paper can be used.

Which paper would you use if origami paper is not available?

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Traditional Paper Folding In Other Countries:

Origami picture by Nishikawa Sukenobu
Illustrator: Nishikawa Sukenobu (1671-1750)
The picture shows ladies folding origami models. They have already folded boat and sanbo.

Though, origami is attributed to have originated in Japan. The art of folding paper existed in these countries: China, Germany, Korea and Spain.

In China, paper folding is called zhezhi. Mostly inanimate objects were folded for ceremonial purpose.

In Spain, paper folding is called papiroflexia. When Moors invaded Spain in the 8th century, they brought the art of paper folding with them.

In Germany, Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852) introduced paper folding to kindergartens.

In European countries, paper is folded for children’s recreational purpose. Action models such as boat and plane are famous.

History Of Origami In Japan:

Artist: Takei
Magazine: Kadomo no kuni [Children’s Land]
Year: 1927

105 AD – Ts’ai Lun, invented paper.  He was Chinese emperor’s servant.

600 AD – Paper was introduced to Japan from China. The paper was very fragile, it can be torn easily. The Japanese made washi paper which was known for softness and sturdiness.

Heian era (794-1185) – Paper was luxury. The origami models was used by aristocrat and samurai people as etiquette to fold gifts.

Edo era (1600-1868) – Paper was produced in mass hence, it was no more a luxury product. Therefore, it was easily available for common people.

Genroku era (1688-1704) – The origami models such as crane, boat models etc. were printed on clothing fabrics.

Meiji era (1868-1912) – The potential of origami was recognized as an activity, it was introduced in kindergarten and elementary levels in school. It was a novel way to improve the dexterity, creativity, concentration and imagination of kids.

Taishou era (1912-1926) – Origami enthusiasts started their artistic endeavors to create original and creative models.

1960’s Yoshizawa-Randlett system is universally accepted symbols for origami. It was developed by Akira Yoshizawa and Samuel Randlett in the 1950’s and 60’s. The symbols were used for origami diagrams in the books. The symbols made it possible for origami enthusiasts to make origami models, without any language instructions.

Hence, the art of origami once was luxury has evolved into a more common art, and it is used as décor, ornament, favors also in research because of the folds.

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