What is Origami?

These “what is origami” comments were generated by members of the Origami newsgroup.


by David Lister

I have been reading again, “Amazing Origami” by Kunihiko Kasahara (2001) and on page 5 he asks; “What is origami?”. He writes that it is a question that has kept him occupied for 20 years.

He continues: “For me the answer can be found in a kind of symbiosis, the coming together of different aspects that make up the whole. My personal definition of origami is as follows:

“Origami is a traditional game of folding paper that unites sculptural esthetic aspects with functional and geometric-mathematical principles”.

Does this fill the bill for you?


by Kathy Knapp

Origami, an exercise in exploring the multitude of ways, using various techniques, to simply fold an object, usually from a piece of paper, cloth, metal, or plastic, whose initial flat shape can be but not limited to a square, circle, rectangle, triangle, hexagon or pentagon.


by John Andrisan

I think of origami as far more than an exercise. It’s an art form! Exercise is a way of expressing it.


by Robert Lang

My favorite definition (which I typically give in my lectures) is:

“Origami is a form of sculpture in which the primary means of creating the form is folding.”

This definition sets no rules on material, size, shape, cuts (or lack of same), flatness versus 3-dimensionality, but in my opinion, it takes in most things that we call “origami” today, and excludes most things that we don’t
usually think of as “origami.”

And as with any good definition, it provides lots of opportunity to argue over categories near the boundaries!


by Andrew

I hate to be the philosophical one here, but nobody else is taking up the gauntlet so here goes:

I think there are some inherent problems with categorizing and defining an art form– inevitably somebody will explore too far and rules will be broken; then the opinions start flying, and the taxonomy falls apart unless it is revised. The only way to avoid this is to use a definition so obscure that it has much less meaning than it otherwise would.

And there’s another problem with defining an art form: art is entirely subjective. In a way, all of these definitions are equally valid, because the person that has submitted them has given their thought and opinion; and in a subjective realm, this is what matters, not the actual content of the definition.

Not to say that the act of sharing our definitions is useless; far from it, I think talking about our ideas is the best thing we can do to stimulate creativity. I’m just pointing out that definitions are far less permanent than we’d like to think.


by jassu

Origami is well known as ‘the art of paper folding’. Modern Paper folding can be defined as ‘the play of making various shape by folding a square paper, with no glue and no cut’. But when we examine the development of paper folding, it includes the use of polygon-paper/glue/scissors/multi layer/etc. Nowadays, paper folding is incorporated in education, mathematics, science, handcrafted art. So generally speaking, paper folding can be defined as: ‘folding paper to make something’.


by Dorothy Kaplan

In my opinion, origami is like the human being, all the same pattern (the piece of paper) with many different designs on it.


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