Origami

From Academic Kids

A crane and papers of the same size used to fold it
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A crane and papers of the same size used to fold it

Origami ( origami "paper folding") is the art of Japanese paper folding. In English, the term properly only refers to the art of paper folding in Japan. However, the Japanese language term literally means "paper folding" and refers to all kind of paper folding, even those of non-Japanese origin.

Origami only uses a small number of different folds, but they can be combined in a variety of ways to make 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 most popular belief, traditional Japanese origami, which has been practiced since the Edo era (1603-1867), has often been less strict about these conventions, sometimes cutting the paper during the creation of the design (Kirigami) or starting with a rectangular, circular, or other non-square sheet of paper.

Contents

History

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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, a leaping gazelle or a stegosaurus that takes an hour and a half to fold. Sometimes the most complex origami models are folded from foil instead of paper, because it allows more layers before becoming impractically thick. Modern origami has broken free from the traditional linear construction techniques of the past and models are now frequently wet-folded or constructed from materials other than just paper and foil. The Japanese do not see origami as an art form, but rather as an integrated part of their culture and tradition.

Joseph Albers, the father of modern color theory and minimalistic art, taught origami and paper folding in the 1920s and 30s. His methods, which involved sheets of round paper that were folded into spirals and curved shapes, have influenced modern origami artists like Kunihiko Kasahara. Friedrich Fr?, founder of the kindergartens, recognized paper binding, weaving, folding, and cutting as teaching aids for child development during the early 1800s.

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. His work was promoted through the studies of Gershon Legman as published in the seminal books of Robert Harbin Paper Magic and more so in Secrets of the Origami Masters which revealed the wide world of paperfolding in the mid 1960s. 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.

Recent historians have uncovered the lost origami Tamatebako, a model from the folk tale of "Urashima-Taro and the Tamatebako". A three volume wood cut book, "Ranma-Zushiki", published in 1734, contained two pictures that were identified by Yasuo Koyanagi in 1993 as the Tamatebako model. Masao Okamura, an origami historian, was able to recreate the model. The model, contrary to common theory of traditional origami, involved cutting and gluing.

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Sadako Sasaki memorial in Hiroshima, surrounded by paper cranes

One of the most famous origami designs is the Japanese crane. The crane is auspicious in Japanese. Japan has launched a satellite named tsuru (crane). Legend says that anyone who folds one thousand paper cranes will have their heart's desire come true. The origami crane (折鶴 orizuru in Japanese) has become a symbol of peace because of this legend, and because of a young Japanese girl named Sadako Sasaki. Sadako was exposed to the radiation of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima as an infant, and it took its inevitable toll on her health. She was then, a hibakusha -- an atom bomb survivor. 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. She folded 644 before she died. Her classmates folded the remaining number and she was buried with a wreath of 1,000 cranes. While her effort could not extend her life, 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. Every year the statue is adorned with thousands of wreaths of a thousand origami cranes. A group of one thousand paper cranes is called senbazuru in Japanese.

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.

Basic instructions

Most origami folds can be broken down into simpler steps. A list of techniques is accumulating in the origami tech tree.

Mathematics of origami

Main article: Mathematics of paper folding

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.

Folding a flat model from a crease pattern has been proven by Marshall Bern and Barry Hayes to be NP complete. [1] (http://citeseer.ist.psu.edu/bern96complexity.html)

The problem of rigid origami ("if we replaced the paper with sheet metal and had hinges in place of the crease lines, could we could still fold the model?") has great practical importance. For example, the Miura map fold is a rigid fold that has been used to deploy large solar panel arrays for space satellites.

Variations

See also

Authors

External links

Further reading

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