Origami is an art of paper folding (折り紙, Japanese 'ori', to fold, and 'kami', paper). Origami only uses a small number of different folds, but they can be combined in an infinite variety of ways to make extremely intricate designs. In general, these designs begin with a square sheet of paper, whose sides may be different colors, and proceed without cutting the paper. Contrary to popular belief, traditional Japanese origami, which has been practiced since the Edo era (1603-1867), has often been less strict about these conventions, sometimes starting with a rectangle or another non-square sheet of paper, or cutting the paper during the creation of the design.

The origin of Japanese origami is probably the ceremonial paper folding, such as noshi, which started in Muromachi era (1392-1573). That of European origami, represented by a little bird (Pajarita in Spanish or Cocotte in French), is probably the baptismal certificate of 16th century.

An origami design can be as simple as a party hat or paper airplane, or as complex as a model of the Eiffel Tower or a leaping gazelle. Sometimes the most complex origami models are folded from foil instead of paper, because it allows more layers before becoming impractically thick. The Japanese do not see origami as an art form, but rather as an integrated part of their culture and tradition.

The work of Akira Yoshizawa of Japan, a prolific creator of origami designs and writer of books on origami, inspired a modern renaissance of the craft. Modern origami has attracted a worldwide following, with ever more intricate designs and new techniques such as 'wet-folding,' the practice of dampening the paper somewhat during folding to allow the finished product to hold shape better, and variations such as modular origami, where many origami units are assembled to form an often decorative whole.

A crane, and the same size papers

One of the most famous origami designs is the Japanese Crane. Legend says that anyone who folds one thousand paper cranes will have their heart's desire come true. The origami crane has become a symbol of peace because of this legend, and because of a young Japanese girl named Sadako. Sadako was exposed to the radiation of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima as an infant, and it took its inevitable toll on her health. By the time she was twelve in 1955, she was dying of leukemia. Hearing the legend, she decided to fold 1,000 cranes so that she could live. Her effort could not extend her life, but it moved her friends to make a granite statue of Sadako in the Hiroshima Peace Park: a young girl standing with her hand outstretched, a paper crane flying from her fingertips.

The tale of Sadako has been dramatized in many books and movies. In one version, Sadako wrote a haiku that translates into English as:

"I shall write peace upon your wings, and you shall fly around the world so that children will no longer have to die this way."

In another version, Sadako died before she could complete her task, and her classmates folded the remaining number so that she could be buried with 1,000 cranes.

Table of contents
1 Basic instructions
2 Variations
3 Authors
4 Mathematics of Origami
5 External links

Basic instructions

Most origami folds can be broken down into simpler steps.

A list of techniques is accumulating in the origami tech tree.




Makoto Yamaguchi

Mathematics of Origami

The practice and study of origami encapsulates several subjects of mathematical interest. For instance, the problem of flat-foldability (whether an origami model can be flattened) has been a topic of considerable mathematical study. See Mathematics of origami.

External links

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