Our fascination with origami started on a rainy day in January in Bouron, France.
Bored to death, with no other materials than old magazines, and practically flooded due to the rain, folding a paper boat is the first thing that comes to mind.
Since we’re curious people, we wanted to know more about the origin of origami.
Well, it was easier to fold a paper boat than to find out were it came from. Some say it originated in China, not Japan. The Chinese used to make art-like objects of paper, because paper was very expensive. Later they burned folded paper objects like boats and gold nuggets to please the gods or spirits.
According to various sources, Buddhist monks brought the art of paper folding to Japan. The Japanese took it a step further, and added animal figures. This is the form of origami we know today.
But what is not so well known is that at the same time, in Europe and the Arabic countries, also similar forms of paper folding emerged. The Arabs folded solely mathematical objects, due to their beliefs. The Moors brought it to Spain where it became known as Papiroflexia and from there it spread throughout Europe and South America.
There seems to be a difference in folding between the European/Arabic techniques and those of the Chinese/Japanese. The European objects tend to have so called ‘grid pattern creases’ like squares and diagonals, whereas the Japanese models tend to have ‘judgement creases’: it’s up to the one who folds to decide where he makes the crease.
So we think our traditional paper boat probably originated in Europe.
And to illustrate that, here’s an early example of a paper boat in an illustration from the 15th century.
Chances are that the art of paper folding developed independently in different countries all over the word, originating from pleating fabric, and took off with the invention of paper. Even the name origami is suggested to be a direct translation of the German word ‘Papierfalten’. Because before the 19th century there were different words in use for paper folding in Japan. But in the end it’s all a big guess, since paper is hard to preserve.
So this is what we found out, if you think we’re absolutely wrong, or if you have information that we don’t please let us know!