Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Origami (2)

(This is Tara's take on origami, with pictures from Adam. Thank you Tara!)

Origami literally means folded paper. The root “oru” means folding and kami, as we already know can be translated as paper. Like other forms of kami we have encountered, paper is believed to be sacred. , Its origins are unknown; however the practice of origami can be traced back to China and Japan. This practice of paper folding is not unique to Asia however. History reveals how forms of paper folding were also present in Europe in the 1400’s. Similar to other such practices such as kirigami (paper cutting) and kumigami (paper assembly), origami is one of several types of paper manipulation that brings about the creation of new forms. Origami varies in shapes, forms and degree of complexity.The practice of origami has two distinct rules. The first is that only one sheet of square paper can be used, and this sheet of paper cannot be cut, torn or ripped in any way. Although the ancient Chinese practice of katashiro used special cut pieces of shrine paper in purification rituals. When trade between China and Japan increased during the Muromachi period, the practice of paper folding was adopted by the Japanese. A piece of paper is folded over and over to make various forms and shapes. For hundreds of years, the most complex of patterns topped at 20 steps of folding. Today highly skilled origami practitioners form shapes that can include over 100 steps.

The practice of origami in Japan can be traced back to the Heian period, where samurai warriors would give one another gifts decorated with folded pieces of paper called noshi.
Noshi are folded pieces of paper that hold a small strip of a sort of dried meat which was believed to be a symbol of good
luck. A form of origami can also be traced back to ancient Shinto marital practices. In Shinto weddings, folded paper butterflies were used to represent the bride and groom in a wedding ceremony (wiki).

A common form of origami is the paper crane, which today stands as a symbol of peace. This is attributed to a young girl named Sadako Sasaki. Sadako was 2 years old when the Atomic bomb hit Hiroshima. She was left with no visible scars or injuries, however 8 years after the fact, Sadako began to fall ill and developed leukemia, a result of the radiation emitted from the bomb. While in her hospital bed, Sadako began to fold paper cranes out of bits of paper, in hopes that they would help her recover from her illness. She continued folding cranes up until her death on October 25th 1955. After her death a campaign was erected and the Children’s Peace Monument was constructed called, the Tower of a Thousand Cranes, dedicated to Sadako and all the other children who lost their lives in Hiroshima. The site is filled with paper cranes brought by visitors as a symbol of peace.

Pieces of folded paper are used to construct gohei or shide, the folded paper which hangs from shimenawa, the straw ropes that have been described in previous blogs by Natasha and Robert. The paper is believed to draw good spirits to the site. Today Origami is used in a multitude of fashions ranging from mathematics, to therapy for physical and mental patients because it requires the use of both body and mind.

~guest blogger, Tara Viglione