Origami is a very old Japanese art form that makes intricate shapes from folded paper. The way that this is done is in great contrast to most western forms of crafts with paper which include glue, scissors, staplers, as well as other objects. The objects made in origami often are features of the natural world such as animals and flowers. However in more modern times, the art form has evolved and practitioners of origami have developed new objects reflective of the modern world, such as paper airplanes.
The term itself ‘origami’ is a composite word. It is formed from two root words, ‘oru’, which means to fold and ‘kami’, meaning paper.
There is European art from the medieval ages, for example, a painting that shows a small paper boat pictured in the Tractatus de Sphaera Mundi. However it is not known if Europeans developed their own type of paper folding independently, and at the same time as the Chinese and Japanese. It is speculated that the art could have been developed by the Moors in Europe but would likely still have come from the East via trading in the Silk Roads.
Little to no implements are needed to practice origami. It is often learnt through one person teaching another. Traditionally no instruments are used however some people use a ruler or any other straight edged object to from straighter neater edges than is possible with the fingers. This varies from practitioner to practitioner.
When origami was first developed it was used exclusively for religious decoration due to the extremely expensive nature of paper then. In current times paper specifically designed for origami can easily be obtained in most craft stores at a reasonable price. It is a craft that is often used to create gifts for people or to decorate cards.