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Origami in Spain

The Spanish philosopher Miguel Unamuno wrote an essay on origami from a philosophical point of view. Miguel discovered the bird base and then discovered the sideways turn which enabled him to produce a string of birds and animals. His figures were quite angular and without the graceful forms of the later origamists. Fortunately for Miguel the ban on representational origami that had been in effect had expired or he would not have been allowed to design these birds and animals. Miguel went on to create original models including vultures and gorillas. Paper folding was virtually unheard of outside of Spain and Argentina at this point in time but by the 1030's Miguel's followers had helped to spread his art to the people of South America.

Origami in Germany The German founder of the Kindergarten Movement, Friedrich Froebel brought paper folding into the kindergarten classroom primarily as an entertainment for the children. The children were taught three types of paper folding. The first was mathematical origami. The second, was the traditional origami and the third, was primarily decorative origami. The word origami was never used at this time; the activity was referred to as Papierfalten (paper folding).

It wasn't until after his death that his followers spread the art of origami throughout Germany. Origami in the East There is still debate as to whether paper folding had spread from Japan to China or from China to Japan. Those who feel it was originated in China believe that the Chinese had been practicing the craft as far back as the second century and it didn't reach Japan until around the 6th century. Regardless of whether origami originated in China or Japan the one thing that is agreed upon is that it was initially a pastime reserved for the wealthy. Because paper was so expensive it wasn't something that was within the reach of the middle and lower classes. As the Chinese trade expanded and paper became more affordable the craft became something to be enjoyed by people of all classes. Origami in the West The art of Paper folding was brought to Spain by the Moors and Muslims of North Africa, however, because their religion did not allow the making of any representative figures, the Spanish were instructed on more of the geometric and ceremonial aspects of the craft. There was a good deal of ceremonial origami but the artistic aspects of the craft stayed undeveloped until the ban was eventually lifted. In the early years in the western nations origami was looked at as a child's pastime and even the books that dealt with the subject were aimed at youngsters. In Victorian England children loved origami.

They practiced origami in the classrooms and there were even children's stories like Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass that contained drawings of origami hats (a pillbox and a three cornered hat). Again as time went on the art spread to adults who became fascinated either by its artistic or its mathematical features.


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