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A Short History of Origami

Origami originally came from China around 100 to 200 A.D. and reached Japan by the
sixth century. The word origami comes from the Japanese word, ori, “to fold,” and gami,
“paper.” To the left is the word, origami, written in Japanese. For many years paper was
so expensive that only wealthy people could afford to fold paper cranes and frogs!

Origami eventually became part


of the culture in Japan. Folded
fan-like models called noshi were
given as gifts. The crane is a Japa-
nese symbol of a long, happy life.
The Japanese created many dif-
ferent origami cranes. It is said
that folding 1,000 origami cranes
will insure the that folder lives
to a ripe old age. Several famous
people in the West practiced ori-
gami. Leonardo da Vinci studied
the geometry of folded paper and
the motion of paper airplanes.
Lewis Carroll practiced origami
and include in his story, Alice In
Wonderland, a carpenter wearing
a paper hat and a train passen-
ger wearing paper clothes. In the
United States, the famous escape
artist Harry Houdini practiced
origami and wrote several books
Figure 1: Japanese women and their daughters folding paper cranes
on folding paper models.

Figure 2: A page of origami notes from Leonardo da Vinci Figure 3: Alice in Wonderland has people wearing origami