By Bailey Blair
If you had one wish come true, what would it be? Would it be your dream purse? Well, it could be yours! Legend says it’s possible. You’ll just have to learn origami. Then proceed to fold 1,000 paper cranes. At least that’s how the story goes.
Origami’s lore and traditions have been orally passed down for thousands of years. In East Asia, records dating back to 109 A.D. show directions for intricate paper folding. Seen here are paper crane folding instructions from one of the oldest known origami books, “The Secret of One Thousand Cranes Origami” by Hiden Senbazuru Orikata, 1797. ²
This practice originated shortly after the creation of
paper. Once printmaking and transportation took off, Buddhist monks delivered paper from China to Japan. The oldest known records of origami instructions are from the 6th century! Here is where everything starts. Historians agree the art style of origami originated in Japan in the early 700 B.C.
The Japanese took paper folding and created an intricate form of fine art. Due to the price and scarcity of paper, origami was a creative hobby reserved for the wealthy. Now when paper first came around, it was expensive. They didn’t have Daiso. So when paper was seen, it was only presented on special occasions such as Shinto (religious) ceremonies, and royal weddings.
The very presence of paper-folded figures at these events indicated specific
symbolism. At weddings, butterflies represented the bride and groom. In ceremonies sending warriors off to battle, Samurai soldiers would receive gifts of origami-style folded gold tokens as a symbol of good luck for their time in battle. And most notably, paper cranes represent good luck.
Zen hands performed origami techniques for most of time and still do. Now, the benefits of technology a la computers extend the visible limits with geometric algorithms. And you thought Excel was confusing?
Ancient and contemporary designers have been always inspired by origami ideas and its sculptural forms. It provides the opportunity to explore futuristic design.
An architect in the UK has created a unique walkway experience in a Herefordshire farm residence. Artists and designers of all pedigrees have shown their affinity for origami in their art.
Since its earliest days, Origami’s influence on Japan embedded itself deep into Japanese culture. From funerals to farmhouses and now fashion runways.
When people hear of origami fashion, they may think that the garment is made by folding without any cutting or stitching. However, origami fashion also refers to the fashion inspired by origami ideas such as quilting and pleating. The garment then becomes a 3D geometric vision.
Designers like Christian Dior showcased origami-inspired couture as seen on this gown made of cranes.
The first ever origami handbag dates back to the Heian era! Within hundreds of years after paper arrived in the country, handbags were already central to the culture.
Then a purse was referred to as tato. Later the name developed from the Japanese root words oru (meaning to fold) and kami (meaning paper). The word then changed again from Orikami to Origami.
I know what you’re asking. “Why did they throw the ‘g’ in there?” Simply put: Japan takes their grammar and syntax seriously. It’s all in the rendaku rulebook.
These paper purses would carry small, lightweight items such as needles, thread, buttons, and postage stamps. Both men and women commonly used them!
It wasn’t until 1966 when the Origami Portfolio Society formed in London. At the first meeting, the first ever origami purse was presented. Lillian Oppenhemer demonstrated how to fold a six-sided, double-ended purse.
Since then the likes of Issey Miyake, Junya Watanabe, and Hanaa-Fu have created bold and pronounced accessories inspired by the traditional Japanese art form.
1Sadako Sasaki and the thousand paper cranes statue at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Japan.
2Paper crane folding instructions from one of the oldest known origami books, “The Secret of One Thousand Cranes Origami” by Hiden Senbazuru Orikata, 1797.
3 Paper cranes hanging at a wedding
4 Origami-inspired aerial walkway at a Herefordshire residence
5 DIOR haute couture Spring/Summer 2007
6 A design for a Purse appears in 'Origami (Part 1)' by Isao Honda, which was first published in Japan in 1931.