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What is Origami?

Craft Ideas | 7-14 yrs | Reading Pod

Origami : Definition

What can you make by folding a piece of paper- a boat, a swan, an aero plane? This art of paper folding is a form of Japanese art and is known as ‘Origami’. In Japanese ‘Ori’ stands for ‘folding’ and ‘gami’ stands for ‘paper’.

Origami Art

  • This art form has been handed over from parents to their children for many generations.
  • But this art form was originally developed in china during the first and second century and gradually moved towards Japan during the sixth century.
  • Then it flourished in Japan and has been a traditional art since then.
  • Origami involves creation of shapes and forms using only paper.
  • Models of animals, fishes, birds, puppets, toys, geometric figures can all be made with paper in Origami art form.

History of Origami

Let us now look at the history of Origami.

  • Though papyrus, which is the first known paper, was first introduced in ancient Egypt, it was too brittle to turn the ancient paper into Origami. In 102 A.D paper was made from pulp in China.
  • During the early days, paper was made available only to those who could afford it- the rich. Thus they started the art of paper folding. Slowly paper became available to the masses as well.

Secrets of Origami

  • China did not share its secret of making paper. But it is said, that a Buddhist monk carried this secret with him to Korea and Japan. Hundreds of years later Japan also came to know the secret of paper making. Soon they started paper folding which became a part of their culture and religion.
  • Now they used various colors and silk threads to make Origami. Gifts were exchanged in the form of ‘Noshi’.
  • Noshi was a paper folded with a piece of dried fish or meat and was exchanged as gifts, supposed to bring good luck.

How did Origami start?

Origami found its way in Japanese celebrations and weddings where origami art was used to wrap and fold in the form of a shape representing the bride and groom.
Years went by and paper became less and less expensive. It was now available to all- rich or poor. Origami became a traditional and popular art form in Japanese household. They did not believe in wasting paper. They saved even the smallest bit of paper and used it to make some other Origami models.

Origami in Schools

At one time in Japan, Origami was taught in schools as well. But today it is an art form which is taught mostly to children at home. For many years Origami did not have a set of instructions to be followed.

Books on Origami

Until, around 1797, a book ‘How to Fold thousand cranes’ was published. The crane is supposed to be the sacred bird of Japan and it was believed that if a person folded thousand cranes, he/she would be granted one wish.

‘Window on Midwater’ was another book on Origami published in 1845. This book showed how to make 150 Origami models. Origami spread to other parts of the world now. The Moors from Africa bought with them this art to Spain. They however did not create animal forms because their religion forbade them to. From Spain Origami art spread to South America. And later this art was introduced to Europe and the United States.

Origami Decorations

Origami was now a part of every household in Japan. Even today, during holidays and celebrations, colorful Origami decorations are made by every family member. During Christmas children make colour Origami stars and decorate the Christmas trees.

Today many forms of Origami have come up in various parts of the world. Origami is also used as a technique to help children with poor motor skills to develop eye-hand coordination. Paper folding art like Modular origami or Pureland origami have recently been introduced. Modular Origami uses many sheets of paper, folded in identical shapes to make one big model of that shape. While Pureland origami is a type in which only one fold is allowed.

5 Interesting Facts about Origami

  1. Akira Yoshizawa is the ‘master of modern Origami’ because he has developed many creative forms of paper folding. He has also developed a set of written symbols that are used worldwide as Origami instructions.
  2. In earlier times, when Chinese buried their dead, a copy of items were folded and included in their tombs.
  3. Origami toys were developed by Chinese. The most famous being the ‘waterbomb’ which were balloons made of paper, filled with water and thrown with a splat!
  4. Crane is now an international symbol for Peace. In Japan, every child, sooner or later learns how to make crane by paper folding.
  5. Practicing Origami activates the entire brain. It develops coordination, patience, attention span, mathematical skills, symmetry understanding and many more.

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