Thursday Thirteen No. 16: Origami

For the past several years, I've been an occasional paper folder. I find transforming squares of paper into animals, flowers, insects, and people to be relaxing and satisfying. On Sunday, I led a very informal beginning origami workshop with some folks from town. One hour flowed into two though it felt like no time at all. Though paper folding can be a solitary activity, in groups it has the effect of relaxing people and bringing them the joy and satisfaction of creating something from nothing.

Here are some thoughts on paper folding:

1. The Abstract Expressionist painter Jackson Pollock once said that "the painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through." So it goes with paper folding. From a single square of paper emerges a universe: mountains and valleys are at once themselves and the essence of cranes, doves, sparrows, turtles, butterflies, trees, mountains, the rose. Nevertheless, these remarkable things remain sheets of paper. The crane is the dove is the butterfly is the empty box is the sheet of paper.

2. The Japanese word for paper folding is origami. In Japanese, ori comes from the verb oru, which means to fold; gami, pronounced kami, means paper. Kami is also the pronunciation of the word for God (though God is represented by a different written character).

3. Though we associate the art form with Japanese culture, it had its origins, like so many other aspects of Japanese culture, in China, where paper was invented in the first century A.D.

4. Some say the first use of paper was in Tibet, where monks created prayer book.

5. Others say bureaucrats in China were the first to make use of paper. Various ways of folding paper were once an important part of the bureaucratic lives of warriors and nobles there. Different schools of etiquette prescribed ways to fold the paper that accompanied gifts or contained written orders for subordinates.

6. Paper was a well-kept Chinese secret for about 500 years, when Buddhist monks took the practice of making paper--and folding it--to Japan. The Buddhists brought along their sacred texts on the finest white paper that could be made. Thus "Buddhism endowed the Japanese with a sacred regard for paper that they have never lost," according to David Lister, a leading scholar on the history or origami.



  1. Nice 13 list! Come by and check out my bok bok blog!

  2. I've always fancied ago at this so maybe I'll try a few over the few days.
    A very interesting post ...

    I hope you are well.


  3. Only talented people can attempt, let alone spell, that kind of I always thought origami was cool. Loved the other info too:) Happy TT and thanks for stopping by.

  4. wow - what beautiful photo & info. I've always admired origami, and would love to try it myself. Nice list...

  5. What a lovely, delicate artform! Thanks for sharing. (And thanks for visiting my TT)

  6. Interesting post. I wouldn't mind learning to do that.

  7. those are so pretty! Thanks for visiting my TT, happy Thursday.

  8. I enjoyed my visit. I hope peace for you.

  9. This is an interesting post. When I was young, my mom used to make paper cranes for me.

  10. I'll have Merlin give you a call!

    I read your post before too - about Spiritual Vampires. VERY interesting.

    Oh, I LIKE origami but am all thumbs at it...

    And thank you for visiting my TT-13!


  11. Thanks for this interesting info about origami.I am no stranger to origami. When I was a young girl in the Philippines, I spent hours playing w/ origami since we didn't have lots of toys. Now that I am a grandma, I teach this paper art to my grandkids, who are now 8 and 10 yrs. old. They are very talented. I thought they will never remember what I have been teaching them. I started teaching them since they were five years old. Origami looks simple but its a process of repetition and practice that will bring good results. Recently, they entertained others by showing their origami artistic talent w/ out my help. Our favorites are love the flying swan, boat (sampan), ball, airplane, and cup.


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