The Origin of Origami Art

          Have you ever done poorly on your homework and didn’t want to show your parents? Well I have a perfect solution: turn it into something beautiful! Origami is a perfect way to do this. Origami comes from the Japanese ‘ori’ for paper, and ‘kami’ for folding. Its origins are mostly unknown, perhaps from Japan or maybe from China. Origami has evolved from an expensive art for the rich into a leisurely craft for anyone, anywhere. Origami has been used for many different things in the past. Let me go back to the origins of this amazing talent.

           Historians are still puzzled at what the origins of origami are. Most people assume it is Japanese, as they have the earliest record of it. The first record was in the 17th century AD, in a writing of a dream in which 

the person saw paper butterflies. Some say that in China, around 100 AD, an emperor’s servant, Ts’ai Lun, tinkered with a piece of paper. Ts’ai Lun created an animal from it and showed this to the emperor and the king liked it. Thus was the birth of origami. It wasn’t very popular in China, but it somehow traveled to Japan and was extremely popular there. Again, no one quite knows how it got invented, but somehow it became famous. When the Moors of Africa took over Japan, they took origami with them to Spain and it spread all over Europe. Eventually it spread to America and all over the world. In America, it became very popular during the 1900s. Everywhere in the world, it had a different use. 

            In Japan, samurai warriors would use thin strips of meat, basically jerky, and fold it a few times into a good luck charm. These good luck charms were called noshi. At Japanese weddings, the family and friends would fold paper butterflies to hang around. However, paper cranes are probably the most popular of origami. It was said that if a person folded 1000 paper cranes, they would be granted one wish. There is also a national holiday in Japan called Children’s day in which the parents construct a big origami carp for the child to fly like a kite. But today, people use origami for different things. 

            Today, origami is used in basic geometry classes, art classes, literature classes, and others. In 1980, scientists, mathematicians, and others began to use a lot of math processes or algorithms to create very elaborate designs. Scientists use origami to learn from the twists and turns. One scientist used an origami scorpion to learn about how to best propel an airbag from a car. Another scientist used a paper turtle to see the small twists and turns and used it to make a cell phone circuit board. Most origami today is very intricate, and sort of different from what it used to be. New techniques are being used. 
            The modern origami techniques were invented by Akira Yoshizawa. Modern origami is created by folding smooth creases in paper. A new method, called ‘wet folding,’ is achieved when the paper is wetted before folding to create a smoother and rounder fold. Origami used to use Washi, a type of paper made from bamboo pulp. Origami today uses origami paper, copy paper, tin foil, dollar bills, or even toilet paper. There are also many categories for origami, including Kirigami, Orikane, Modular, Strip, Palm weaving, tessellations, and action origami. 

            Kirigami is the form of origami when you are permitted to cut the paper. In traditional origami, you are not permitted to cut the paper. Kirigami uses several folds, then a few cuts, then continuing with folding. Orikane is pretty much just folding of paper money. It is creative and fun, and it’s hilarious to see the cashier’s face when you pay with orikane! Modular origami is origami which uses several pieces of paper. It is usually very mathematical and elaborate, though it’s pretty easy. Strip folding origami is origami composed of strips of paper. Palm weaving is considered origami though it’s pretty much just weaving. It is basically just weaving palm fronds together to construct a beautiful animal or object. Tessellations are 2D pieces of paper fitted together to form a quilt-like appearance. 

              Origami has been around for a long time and has brought people much joy. There are so many variations, designs, and types that one could never grow bored. I enjoy origami, and I hope you learn how to do it as it is an easy, cheap craft. So next time you do poorly on your homework, have fun! And make something great out of something not-so-great.