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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Origami - What Origin?

I've never been any good at origami, only ever able to create boulders and visages of jet airplanes that never existed, and fly as such.

And yet, mention origami to a person of Japanese origin, their eyes light up and they immediately begin constructing cranes with wings that flap when you move the tail - and all made out of a discarded foil chewing gum wrapper they picked up off the ground in the seconds after you first mentioned the word 'origami'.

Sometimes I hate artistic people.

I actually own one piece of origami, that I brought back with me from Japan. It's a single dangling earring done in the shape of a tiny crane. Needless to say, despite the artistic coolness of it, I've only ever worn it once while back in Canada, and some exotic dancer wanted it, offering herself in trade.

Been there, done that (not her, but by that time several from within her profession) - but I only had one origami crane earring.

It would have been more appropriate if she had offered to trade some folding paper for the folded paper. But, being a sentimental person, I probably wouldn't have done the deal anyway.

Speaking of price, Alice recently sent me a link to some awesome origami sculptures - none of which appeared to be done by a Japanese person (at least as far as my brain can discern from their on-line monikers), regardless, they were highly imaginative, so much so that many don't look like they were anything other than a computer generated construct. But they weren't. See HERE.

Alice is a very creative person, though she's not ever mentioned she creates origami... but it's not like such things have ever come up in the years she has read this blog.

Anyhow, the link suggestion discusses the origin of origami, stating so as though it was fact. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it isn't.

First, as I write this on November 11, it is Origami Day in Japan... Remembrance Day in Canada, where we honor members of the armed forces who died in the line of duty. It's something Commonwealth countries observe, but many non-Commonwealth countries, do too. There are many, and dammit, that's something you can look up yourselves, should you be interested.

Anyhow, that website Alice led me to via a rabbit hole states origami isn't a Japanese invention, and that it was imported to Japan after 1860 when Japan's borders were opened up to foreign trade.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say (I understand that not everything found on the Interweebthingamabob isn't the gold standard, but this section doesn't make any bold claims that make it sound like fact:

 The Japanese word "Origami" itself is a compound of two smaller Japanese words: "ori", meaning to fold, and "kami", meaning paper. Until recently, all forms of paper folding were not grouped under the word origami, namely "tsutsumi", a kind of wrapper used for formal occasions. Before that, paperfolding invented by a monk called Zack Omi) for play was known by a variety of names, including "orikata", "orisue", "orimono", "tatamigami" and others. Exactly why "origami" became the common name is not known; it has been suggested that the word was adopted in the kindergartens because the written characters were easier for young children to write. Another theory is that the word "origami" was a direct translation of the German word "Papierfalten", brought into Japan with the Kindergarten Movement around 1880.


Anyhow, origami is still a beloved art form that most Japanese folks seem to recall into their adulthood from their childhood days.

Speaking of childhood, here's a photo of my book: How to Make & Fly Paper Airplanes that I bought in 1975. Written by a retired U.S. Navy Captain, it was far too complicated for me to understand back then, just as it is now.

I need someone to hold my hand and show me how to fold paper.

Andrew Joseph

1 comment:

  1. yeah, I did origami as a kid. My dad brought back a fabulous kit for me from one of his Japanese biz forays, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    No big surprise there, eh? :)

    - A