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If you’re enthusiastic about paper folding as a craft, it’s good to know a bit more about the history of origami. While no one person can take credit for inventing the craft, the art of paper folding is nearly as ancient as paper itself. In fact, there are records of both Japanese and Chinese origami histories going as far back as the fifth century. However, it is generally acknowledged that paper was first created about 105 A.D. in China. The Japanese first put paper to use around the sixth century. While it’s true that other ethnicities engaged in different forms of paper folding, it was still believed that the Japanese who realized the possibilities of using paper as a platform for art.

Origami: The History behind the Name

Origami was first referred to as orikata which has a literal translation of folded shapes. The term was changed to origami in 1880. The word “origami” originates from the Japanese terms oru which means to fold, and kami which means paper. It’s unknown why this term was picked out, although historians have theorized that the characters for the term were basically the easiest for children to learn to write.

Origami: Then and Now

Over the years, a great number of people became drawn to the idea of learning to make origami figures provided that the paper is an inexpensive craft supply. Ironically, when origami was first developed and put to use, it was an art exclusively for the elite. The monks in Japan folded origami figures for spiritual reasons. The art was likewise used in different official rituals, like the practice of folding paper butterflies to embellish sake bottles during a wedding reception in Japan. One form of origami called Tsutsumi, the art of folding paper gift wrappers, was used in numerous events to represent truthfulness and purity. On the other hand, Tsuki or the folded pieces of paper accompanying a treasured gift was another example of paper folder for a formal ceremony and was used as a documentation of authenticity.

As the paper evolved into a budget-friendly commodity, common people started making origami figures as presents. They also created folded cards and envelopes for their letters. Origami was then used as an academic tool, since the folding techniques entail several aspects that are tightly related to the study of math.

The great thing about origami is that it’s never too late to learn how to learn the craft. Young or old, the art is for anyone. For added inspiration, here are 40 stunning origami figures:

Rainbow Cube Ring

Rainbow Cube Ring

St. Michael – The Archangel by Tran Trung Hieu

St. Michael - The Archangel by Tran Trung Hieu

Moth Origami Lampshade

Moth Origami Lampshade

Aperture Science Sentry Turret

Aperture Science Sentry Turret

Origami Sculpture Designed by Jo Nakashima

Origami Sculpture Designed by Jo Nakashima

Dollar Goat

Dollar Goat

Origami Wall Art

Origami Wall Art

Origami Fox

origami fox

X-Wing Origami

X-Wing Origami

Jedi Origami

Jedi Origami

Bowties

Bowties

Origami Beetle by Shuki Kato

Origami Beetle by Shuki Kato

Origami Bike by Ryo Aoki

Origami Bike by Ryo Aoki

Moneygami by Yosuke Hasegawa

Moneygami by Yosuke Hasegawa

Scorpion Origami by Robert J. Lang

Robert J. Lang Scorpion Origami

Blue Whale Origami

Blue Whale Origami

Geometric Origami by RIchard Sweeney

Geometric Origami by RIchard Sweeney

Origami Dinosaur by Adam Tran

Origami Dinosaur by Adam Tran

Origami Taurantula

Origami Taurantula

Origami Nazgul by Jason Ku

Origami Nazgul by Jason Ku

Tea Cups

Tea Cups

Kiwi by Bernard Peyton

Kiwi by Bernard Peyton

Constrained Bowl by Linda Smith

Constrained Bowl by Linda Smith

Origami F-18 Fighter Jet Out of a Dollar Bill

Origami F-18 Fighter Jet Out of a Dollar Bill

Origami by Eyal

Origami by Eyal

Wall-E Origami

Wall-E Origami

Origami Duck

Origami Duck

Little Roses Kusudama by Maria Sinayskaya

Little Roses Kusudama by Maria Sinayskaya

Origami Gecko

Origami Gecko

Geometric Currency Sculptures Folded by Kristi Malakoff

Geometric Currency Sculptures Folded by Kristi Malakoff

Kusudama Paper Flowers

Kusudama Paper Flowers

Dollar Bulldog

Dollar bulldog

Origami Elephant

Origami Elephant

Origami Sparrows

Origami Sparrows

King Cobra by Ronald Koh

King Cobra by Ronald Koh

Event Horizon by Byriah Loper

Event Horizon by Byriah Loper

Flower Tessellation by Evan Zodl

Flower Tessellation by Evan Zodl

Origami Owl

Origami Owl

Origami Panda

Origami Panda

Yoda Origami

Yoda Origami

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Posted by Igor Ovsyannykov

I'm a digital nomad and entrepreneur bouncing around South East Asia. When I'm not working here, I'm out taking photos. Follow me on Instagram: @igorovsyannykov

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