Two girls are folding origami crane

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.

Traditional Origami Bases

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

The following are the traditional base used in origami models: 

  • Kite Base
  • Fish Base
  • Blintz Base
  • Waterbomb Base
  • Preliminary Base
  • Bird Base
  • Frog 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.

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

One side colored and 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.

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

  • Gift wrapping paper
  • Gum and candy wrappers
  • Kitchen baking parchment
  • Magazine pages
  • Newspaper
  • Note paper
  • Scrapbooking paper
  • Tissue paper
  • Tracing paper
  • Wax paper

Traditional Paper Folding In Other Countries

Origami art 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. Paper folding art 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 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. Models such as boat and planes are famous.

History Of Origami In Japan

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

105 AD – Ts’ai Lun, invented paper.  He was Chinese court official.

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. Origami 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 a 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 to make origami models without any language instructions.

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


Leave a Reply