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The History of Origami

Mar 16, 2016

Most of us have experimented with origami, the Japanese art of paper-folding, but you might not be aware of the long history behind this popular art form. Check out origami's fascinating past! 

There's so much amazing art you can make with paper!There's so much amazing art you can make with paper!Courtesy of


  • It is generally speculated that some form of origami has existed since the invention of paper, with the reasoning being that it's a fairly natural reaction to paper to want to fold it! Since paper is thought to have been invented in China in 105 AD, it's likely that the first paper-folding as art occurred around this time. 
  • Over the next couple of hundred years, paper made its way over to Korea and then to Japan, having been introduced outside of China by Buddhist monks. It was really in Japan where the art side of paper-folding took off. 
  • In Japan at the time, paper was very expensive, so artistic paper-folding as limited to rituals and ceremonies, like weddings and special gift-giving occasions. 
  • The first evidence of origami making its way to Europe was not until the 15th century, though some think that the art of paper-folding developed on its own in Europe, separate from what was happening in Japan. 

Nowadays, you can get origami paper in loads of colors and patterns!Nowadays, you can get origami paper in loads of colors and patterns!Courtesy of


  • By the 17th century, there is evidence that origami had become a much more recreational art form, almost taking on an aspect of play. By the time the 18th century rolled around, books were being published with instructions for how to make traditional origami folds. 
  • Origami creations such as dragons, tortoises, and cranes can be given as gifts to friends and loved ones, as they may represent luck. 
  • The crane in particular symbolizes health and long life in Japan, and so is a popular token to give someone you care about. In fact, legend states that anyone who folds 1,000 paper cranes will be granted a special wish after all are completed. 

The crane is a traditional symbol of long life.  The crane is a traditional symbol of long life. Courtesy of

Modern Origami

  • These days, it's common for everyone from schoolchildren to your grandmother to experiment with paper-folding as an art form, a meditative exercise, or simply for fun. 
  • There are a number of very serious origami artists out there, though, who can be credited with creating complex new designs and methods for progressing the art form. 
  • It's common to see origami animals folded out of paper, but there are many more designs out there to explore. It might take some patience, but you can make everything from realistic masks to abstract paper sculptures

This multi-colored design is a piece of modern origami. This multi-colored design is a piece of modern origami. Courtesy of

We hope you'll be inspired by learning about this ancient art form to try some origami on your own! Just a piece of advice though: don't start with the crazy complicated designs, go for something simple first. 

Have Your Say! 

Have you ever tried making anything out of origami? Share your experiences with our Kidzworld readers!