The art of paper folding - The Origami history

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Origami is the Japanese art of paperfolding. "Ori" is the Japanese word for folding and "kami" is the Japanese word for paper. That is how origami acquired its name. However, origami did not begin in Japan. It started in China in the 1 o 2 century and then spread to Japan sometime during the sixth century. The objetive of this art is to transform a flat sheet of paper into a finished sculpture through folding and sculpting techniques, and as such the employ of cuts or glue are not contemplated to be origami.

There is much speculation as to the origin of the art of paper folding. While Japan seems to have had the most extensive tradition, there is evidence of independent origami traditions in Spain, Germany and China, among other places. However because paper decomposes rapidly, there is very little direct evidence of its age or origins, aside from references in publicized material.

The list of the origami folds is not big, but they can be compound in a variety of ways to make great designs. The most well known origami model is likely the Japanese paper crane. Generally, these designs start with a square sheet of paper whose sides may be different colors or prints. Contrary to common belief, traditional Japanese origami, which has been practiced since the era (1603-1867), has frequently been less strict about these conventions, sometimes cutting the paper or using nonsquare shapes to begin with.

The earliest evidence of paperfolding in Europe is a picture of a small paper boat in Tractatus de sphaera mundi from 1490. There is also prove of a cut and folded paper box from. It is probable paperfolding in the west originated with the Moors much earlier, it is not known if it was independently discovered or knowledge of paperfolding came along the silk route.

In Japan, the first unambiguous reference to a paper model is in a short poem by Ihara Saikaku in 1680 which describes origami butterflies in a dream. Paper butterflies were used during the celebration of Shinto weddings to represent the bride and groom, so paperfoldingorigami already become a significant aspect of Japanese ceremony by the Heian period (794-1185) of Japanese history, enough that the reference in this poem would be recognized. Samurai warriors would exchange gifts adorned with noshi, a sort of good luck token made of folded strips of paper.

In the early 1900s, Akira Yoshizawa, Kosho Uchiyama, and others began creating and recording original origami arts. Akira Yoshizawa in particular was responsible for a number of innovations, such as wet-folding and the Yoshizawa-Randlett diagramming system, and his work stimulated a renaissance of the art form. During the 1980s a number of origamist started systematically studying the mathematical properties of origami forms, which led to a steady magnify in the complexity of origami models, which continued well into the 1990s, after which some designers started returning to simpler models.

Origami not only covers still-life, there are also moving objects; Origami can move in clever ways. Action origami includes origami that flies, requires inflation to complete, or, when complete, uses the kinetic energy of a person's hands, applied at a certain region on the model, to move another flap or limb. Some argue that, strictly speaking, only the latter is really "recognized" as action origami. Action origami, first appearing with the traditional Japanese flapping bird, is quite common. One example is Robert Lang's instrumentalists; when the figures' heads are pulled away from their bodies, their hands will move, resembling the playing of music.

The interest in origami continues to increase today. Just as the ancient Japanese found useful purposes for their origami models, so do we today. Origami will also be a part of our future as we look toward the millennium. The origami crane has become a global peace symbol.

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