Chinese paper folding

From Academic Kids

This article describes the art of paper folding (Template:Zh-cp) in China.

Papermaking, as we know it, was developed in China, and some of the earliest surviving folded models are from China. The history of Chinese paper folding has not been as thoroughly investigated as that of other countries (particularly Japan and the Spanish-speaking lands) mainly due to the political isolation of mainland China, but there are enough examples of traditional Chinese paper folding known which demonstrate that it is a well-developed art in that country.

Mrs. Maying Soong's 1948 book, The Art of Chinese Paper Folding, was among the earliest works to popularize recreational paperfolding in the 20th Century west. It contains a number of simple traditional designs, some of which are also found in the traditions of other countries (David Petty has illustrations of the models on his home page ( A number of the models are folded from the blintz base (this means one begins by folding the four corners of a square to meet at the center), a form also common in traditional European and Japanese paper folding. The Old Scholar's Hat is among the old Chinese models found in this book.

Modern communications have made paper folding an increasingly international tradition, with origami societies organized around the world, and folds of Chinese origin have become great favorites, such as the Vase ( Some observers have said that there is a tendency toward inanimate objects and containers in Chinese paper folding, compared to a tendency toward models of living subjects in Japanese.

In the mid 1990's a group of Chinese refugees were detained in an American prison and began making elaborate models combining traditional Chinese modular paperfolding (using magazine covers and the like) with a form of papier-mâché (using toilet tissue). These were given as gifts to people who were of help to the refugees, and were also sold at charity fundraisers. The media coverage popularized the traditional Chinese modular folding worldwide, and became known as Golden Venture folding.

The modular folding mentioned above is often done with Chinese paper money, and is folded from numerous pieces of paper (a 1 x 2 rectangle: half a square) folded into a relatively simple triangle, and connected by inserting a flap of one triangle into a pocket on the next. Popular favorite subjects for this type folding include pineapples, swans, and ships.

It is speculated by some historians that Chinese paper folding influenced both traditional Japanese and European paper folding.


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