Published on August 29th, 2014 | by Sally Wenham
The Art Of Origami
Origami, the Japanese method of paper folding may seem like a mysterious art form to many; however it has gained popularity in recent years. Here at the Post Office Shop, we would like to provide you with an insight into the art of origami.
The word origami comes from the Japanese Ori meaning folding and Kami meaning paper (due to Japanese Rendaku, the pronunciation of Kami is changed to Gami). Although the many forms of paper folding are now commonly called origami, this hasn’t always been the case. Paper folding for enjoyment has been known as a variety of terms including “orisue” and “tatamigami”.
Although the exact date that origami was invented is unknown, it was associated with 6th Century Japan following the import of paper into the country by Buddhist monks from China. However due to the high price of paper at that time, origami was only used as a means of decoration in religious ceremonies.
Whilst it is commonly believed that the art of paper folding began in Japan, instances of paper folding were also thought to be prevalent in the same era in other parts of Asia and also in Europe. However it is unknown as to whether these traditions had developed separately or had evolved from one unified source.
An excerpt from a 1680 poem by Japanese poet Ihara Saikaku describes origami butterflies being used during Shinto weddings to symbolize the bride and groom. This evidence would indicate that origami had become a more prevalent aspect of Japanese ceremonies by the Heian Period (794 – 1185). It was also commonplace for Samurai to give one and other gifts decorated with noshi; which are good luck tokens made from folded strips of paper.
The first paper folding book was released in 1797 in Japan and was titled Senbazuru orikata which means “The Secret to Folding One-thousand Cranes”. This book provided a guide to folding one thousand origami cranes which are held together with string.
In the early 20th Century, artists such as Akira Yoshizawa and others began creating and making records of their original origami artwork. The Yoshizawa-Randlett system is now used worldwide. The popularity of origami has increased thanks to the involvement of societies such as OrigamiUSA and the British Origami Society. Although the first known social group centered around origami was established in Zaragoza, Spain in the 1940s.
Thanks to the increase in popularity of origami and the pioneering of new techniques; more elaborate and complex models are being created. Some of these artworks were displayed at the Cooper Union in New York City as part of the “Surface to Structure: Folded Forms” exhibit.
Isn’t it amazing to think that all you need to create a piece of origami is a piece of paper and your bare hands?