Written By Shravya NB (Grade 10)
Every time I go to the stationery shop near my house, I spot some vibrant packs of bright and colourful papers. These papers are cut into squares of about 6 inches. I’ve always been tempted to buy them but did not quite understand the way they had to be used. One fine day, I could not resist my temptation and went ahead to buy one pack of those sheets. There was something written on it in Japanese, and below it, I could read the word “ORIGAMI” printed in big bold letters. As soon as I came back I tried to understand what origami was. I learnt that it is the Japanese art of paper folding. Ori means folding and Kami means paper in Japanese, literally meaning paper folding, which involves folding and sculpting square sheets of paper into various intricate designs.
Origami is believed to have been introduced by the Chinese. However, the art was perfected and incorporated into their tradition by the Japanese. The art of origami is linked with the Japanese Shinto belief that “Everything in nature is connected” which is evidenced through the process of transforming a single sheet of paper into a wide range of designs. Traditional Japanese origami promotes the making of 3-D models by merely folding the paper, discouraging cutting and pasting techniques. Washi is the traditional origami paper made using the fibres extracted from the wood pulp of a special tree. These papers weigh less than normal paper, facilitating easy folding.
This elegant art of origami is highly beneficial when it comes to the development of motor skills and mental concentration. Apart from relieving stress and enhancing patience, it plays a great role in boosting one’s creativity. Scientific research suggests that origami improves cognition, multitasking and working memory. In fields of architecture, miniature models of bridges and other designs are made using origami. Origami provides additional clarity in concepts when incorporated into teaching subjects like mathematics. Pipe supports of high-speed trains in Japan, which absorb excess pressure, use origami too.
Besides appreciating the magnificence and simplicity of origami, people have begun to acknowledge the history and symbolism behind the art form. The beauty of origami is that every model of the art is symbolic of a trait. Tatsu, the origami dragon represents strength, power, wisdom and success. It is generally attached with a present to wish good fortune. Origami lotuses are made to symbolise purity, new beginnings and rebirth. Chocho, the origami butterfly, represents marital bliss. They are a vital part of wedding decorations and are symbolic of the aspirations and dreams of young girls who grow into beautiful young women. Kaeru, the origami frog makes it to the wallets of many Japanese as they are associated with the wise spending of money and the belief that the given money shall return. Neko, the origami cat, represents strength, self-assurance and independence. Hakucho, the origami swan, represents majesty, tranquillity and fidelity. Origami dogs symbolize security, friendship, companionship and protection. Origami turtles symbolize energy, cleverness and good luck. One of the most special and popular origami art is that of making cranes. The crane is a bird of peace, majesty and long life. According to a legend of the Japanese culture, if one folds a thousand paper cranes, his wishes and dreams are granted by God.
A variety of sources such as origami books, online tutorials, and D-I-Y kits are available for one to learn this art. Besides the beauty and elegance of origami, one gets to learn various other skills such as patience, creativity, imagination, and motor skills and in the process one has a lot of fun as well!
Featured Image Courtesy – Gathered