Schools and organizations all over the world have at one time or another taught or studied origami. Origami is the art of folding paper to make animals, boxes, and geometrical shapes without cutting, tearing or taping the paper. Common shapes made today are birds like swans and cranes, boxes and windmills.From where origami came has not been well established.
Even though origami is popular in Japan, the first paper folds may have started in China which coincided with the invention of paper in 105 A.D. The first origami was thought to be used as certificates or folded documents, which authenticated gifts or valuables, such as swords and pieces of art. The only people who could afford paper at that time were the wealthy.
They followed strict guidelines and rules on folding the paper so the gifts were known to be original and copies could not be made. This type of origami was called origami-tsuki.
According to Koshiro Hatori on the “The Early Origami” , a simplified form of origami in which gifts were wrapped in paper may have been the first uses of origami in Japan during the Heian Era from 794-1192. However, when paper was less expensive and could be obtained by most people in the Muromachi Era from 1338-1573, gifts were wrapped in folded papers to express their genuineness of giving the gift.
Samurai warriors followed a particular school of origami, which gave strict rules and patterns to follow when folding the paper. The farmers adhered to the Ogasawaryu School. To this day, some of the same methods in creating origami shapes are from the patterns used in the two schools during the Muromachi Era.
As a side note – A really, really interesting sight which is dedicated to the current Ogasawaryu School can be found at http://www.ogasawararyu-reihou.gr.jp/eng… , which gives the history and traditions of the school which have existed since the 13th century. The head of this school of manners is Keishousai Ogasawaryu, who is a descendent from the same family who ruled in the Muromachi Era. They call the paper bag, which is folded to carry gifts, Origata instead of Origami because Origata is folded according to what is packed in the bag. Origata means the fundamental manners to wrap your heart to others.
The type of origami folded to accompany gifts was called tstutsumi. Origami tstutsumi is the folding of wrappers for gifts of flowers for religious celebrations. The tusutsumi was a gesture of etiquette on behalf of the gift-giver. A popular gift during the Kamakura period from 1185-1333 A.D. was called “noshi awabi”. “Noshita (which later became noshi) Awabi”, is a sun dried thin strip of a type of sea snail. The meat was given to wish the receiver good luck or fortune.
The meat was wrapped in white folded paper and tied with a strings made from trees. The etiquette rules and patterns mentioned early as learned in the different schools of origami were expressed through colors and the knots that were tied in the strings as well as how the paper was folded.