The exact date that origami was first discovered is unknown; however, experts in Japanese culture have a pretty good idea that it had become known by the first century AD. The art of origami did not spread to Japan until the sixth century. Scholars of Japanese culture and history claim that only the rich were able to perform origami because paper was hard to come by and very expensive. Even Tuff paper was too hard to do, as even simple origami was too expensive for most. Only nobles and the “well to do” were able to afford and perform origami and this is why the origami art took so long to get from China to Japan; the fact that diplomatic relations between these countries were sometimes less than friendly also may be a factor.
Origami and the Japanese Samurai
Some people believe that a Japanese samurai brought origami to Japan after doing battle on the shores of China. This samurai warrior killed a man in front of his wife and young child and in his opponent’s honor the samurai granted him his last request. He requested that he (the samurai) look after his wife and young child for three years. The samurai agreed and chopped off his head.
For three years the samurai looked after this woman and her young child. For the first year the woman wouldn’t even speak or acknowledge him, but after he saved her from some village ruffians she became more comforting towards him. She then taught the samurai some simple origami and eventually some more difficult concepts. He became an expert and after three long years he left for Japan. He taught this art to several other samurai warriors and it soon spread throughout Japan being taught to whoever wanted to learn. Because many people didn’t know how to read, written directions for origami were not used until a couple of centuries later. In fact, it wasn’t until 1797 that a book called How to Fold 1000 Cranes was finally written and published to explain this beautiful art. There was a famous saying in Japan that if a person could fold 1000 cranes they were granted one wish.
The samurai used origami regularly — almost on a daily basis. Samurai would make good luck tokens in the form of a noshi. The paper was folded with a dried out strip of meat or fish and given to others as gifts. Some samurai would practice their art of protection and have a delicate and fragile form of origami with them at all times, never to have it lost or damaged.
Modern Uses for Origami
Origami is still in use today. Most Asian countries use origami for holiday decoration and for special occasions. Many Asian cultures place a simple origami to represent the bride or groom on top of wine glasses during weddings. But nearly every country in the world knows about origami and it is once again becoming popular with many different kinds of people.
This article on simple origami origins was supplied by the freelance writer Blizzerand.