What is Origami?

Article Details
  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 September 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
In 1961, the Kennedy family was given a puppy named Pushinka; her mother was one of the first Soviet space dogs.  more...

October 17 ,  1777 :  The British surrendered to US military forces in the Battle of Saratoga.  more...

Origami is a Japanese compound word which means “paper folding.” It is used to describe crafts made from folded paper in Japan as well as pieces originating in other regions, since so many people associate folded paper crafts with Japan in particular. Individual pieces can vary widely in size and design, from simple folded boxes to ornate creatures made by joining several different sheets of paper.

The art of paper folding actually originated in China around the first century CE. The Chinese referred to their folded paper crafts as zhe zhi, and monks brought the tradition with them to Japan when they visited in the sixth century. The Japanese quickly took to paper folding as a pastime, developing a number of traditional folds, shapes, and styles, many of which were considered fortuitous for particular occasions or life events. The Crane is a particularly famous lucky shape.

Origami was also far from effeminate in Japan; samurai warriors used to exchange intricate origami with each other, for example. A wide variety of types of paper could be used, including delicately marbled paper and paper ornamented with gold leaf. Typically, the paper used in this craft making is square, and the two sides are often different colors. Multicolored Japanese origami paper can be used to create pieces with contrasting colors or panels in different patterns.


Paper arts tend to be ephemeral, because paper breaks down much more quickly that other media. Therefore, it can be difficult to trace the history of origami with physical pieces, although written descriptions and painted depictions of origami can be used to piece together the trends in this craft over the centuries. Origami folding was clearly popular with people in many different walks of life, and gifts of lucky origami were often exchanged between people at festivals and major life events.


You might also Like


Discuss this Article

Post 4

I always loved watching people create Origami. I was never too good at it because it's just very difficult. I agree with @sherlock87. I really don't understand the meaning behind origami.

Post 3

I don't really see the point of most origami. It's all books and kits for kids to buy and "learn" without really knowing anything about its background or what any of these things mean.

Of course, if you're really interested in it and actually take the time to learn the background then it could be really meaningful -- I guess I just think that most people today see it as more of a hobby than a true art or craft.

Post 2

I tried to learn some origami when I was a kid, and it was harder than I expected. I also had trouble with the special paper, which was slippery and also expensive to buy when I ran out.

Post 1

I've found that the best paper to use for Origami if you're just starting out is a newspaper. It creases very well and is durable. Construction paper doesn't work that well because it tears easily, and it's also very thick and hard to fold sometimes.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?