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The art of creating shapes with craft paper.

Origami is the art of paper folding. The goal of this art is to create a given result using geometric folds and crease patterns. The word literally means "paper folding" in Japanese and refers to all types 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 sheets of paper. It's also possible to create folds from triangular paper.

The "invention" of paper folding probably followed soon after the invention of paper itself. The earliest known traditions of paper folding were of ritual origin. The earliest known Japanese origami is probably ceremonial paper folding, such as noshi, which started in Muromachi era (1392-1573). In Korea, ancestral tablets made of paper, known as "jibang", were folded in a prescribed manner handed down the family line for use in ancestral worship ceremonies. The earliest known European origami is probably the baptismal certificate of 16th century, represented by a little bird ("pajarita" in Spanish or "cocotte" in French).

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 or longer to fold. Sometimes the most complex origami models must be folded from foil instead of paper; this allows more layers before the paper becomes 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 paper and foil. With popularity, a new generation of origami creators have experimented with crinkling techniques and smooth-flowing, sensual designs used in creating realistic faces, nudes, and other traditionally artistic themes. Some inventors specialize in creating erotic origami designs, some of which can be found on the web.

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 Fröbel, 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 also known as unit 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.

One of the most famous origami designs is the Japanese crane. The crane is auspicious in Japanese culture. 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.

Source: Wikipedia

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