Origami: How Folding Paper Became an Art Form

Origami Origins

Bring out your colorful folding paper and prepare for Origami Day, celebrated annually on 11 November! The art of origami rose to popularity in Japanese society in the 17th century, and since its genesis, origami has become a traditional symbol embodying celebration, hope, and love.

Origami is translated in Japanese as ori, meaning folding, and kami, meaning paper. In ancient Japan, paper folding was a ceremonial and often religious art form, where only a selected few folded handmade paper. Throughout the Edo period (1603-1868), paper folding transitioned from not only being ceremonial, but recreational as well as folding paper became widely available for the masses to buy for decorative and artistic purposes. Following this shift, origami became a popular art form throughout the history of Japan, as origami experts such as Akisato Rito published how-to books and guides with instructions for paper folding in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Modern origami may appear as simply folding a square shaped piece of paper, but it is akin to puzzle solving as designers fold paper into intricate shapes without cutting or gluing. Regarded as the founder of modern origami, Akira Yoshizawa created a series of folding patterns utilising  diagrams and symbols to lay a foundation for modern origami design in 1930. Since then, other modern origami pioneers including Jun Maekawa have further developed origami by integrating advanced mathematical theories to achieve perplexing shapes. However, the crane is the most popular and internationally recognised origami model, and for good reason - the elegance of the paper crane appeal not only to the eyes, but also to the soul as it represents harmony and peace.

The art of origami has since then developed from its humble beginnings, originally a trademark in religious ceremonies to a staple in mainstream art; it is often featured in competitions, where origami enthusiasts can create their own origami works and compete with others to win for the best designs.

Origami Day pays homage to Japanese culture and art, bringing people together to marvel at the intricacy and sophistication of origami art. It’s a traditional, endearing art form that dates back generations, retaining its technical beauty while fostering love and peace.