The Public Paperfolding History Project

Main Index Page

x

Paper Birds
 
This page attempts to record what is known about the origin and history of folded paper birds. Please contact me if you know any of this information is incorrect or if you have any other information that should be added. Thank you.

It is worth noting that in French literature the phrase 'oiseau de papier' often means a kite.

There are separate pages for Paper Peacocks, Paper Penguins and Ducks and Swans.

**********

The Paper Crane or Orizuru - 1603 onwards

**********

1757

In a letter sent home to his mother from his school on the Isla Real de Leon, dated 10th July 1757, schoolboy Guillermo Pen wrote 'Con esta estratagema les hago callar; y despues para hacerme amigo de ellas, a unos les hago cometas, a otros barcas, navios, pajaros, y otras muchos cosas, todo de papel.' (With this ploy I silence them; and then to make friends with them, I make kites for some, for other boats, ships, birds, and many other things, all of paper.) His letter can be found in 'Entretenimiento de Los Ninos' by Monsieur Rochon, published in Madrid in both Spanish and French in 1779.

Without better descriptions or illustrations, we cannot unfortunately know whether the 'boats, ships and birds' were designs of Guillermo Pen's own devising, or traditional paperfolds such as the Paper Boat or the Cocotte / Pajarita.

**********

1775

'Extrait du Journal de Mes Voyages' by M. Pahin de la Blancherie, which was published in Paris and Orleans in 1775 contains a passage which, roughly translated, reads, 'You can leave a child in his own home, I mean, in the room, when you know he can take care of himself ... I don't mean studying Latin, grammar, mythology, & c; but to use his time for something that will interest him: thus he will repeat his music lesson, he will make paper birds, houses of cards; he will paint on paper, he will build a kite, he will whittle wood, & c. If a child is well behaved, we can rest assured that being alone he will take care of himself.'

This passage refers to the making of paper birds as if it is, like the building of card castles, an activity commonly practised by boys. This suggests that these paper birds were probably Cocottes but without an illustration, or a more detailed description, we cannot be certain that they were.

**********

c1790

Around 1790 Juan González del Castillo (1763-1800) premiered the sainete 'Los cómicos de la legua', a work in which the character Pasqual says, roughly translated, 'although I went to school more than three years and a half, I only learned how to make paper hats and birds of paper'.

Lacking a picture, we cannot be certain which type of 'pajaras de papel' (paper birds) or which type of 'monteras' (paper hats) are being referred to here, but, on the basis that we do not know of any likely alternatives, it seems reasonable to assume that the paper birds are probably Cocottes / Pajaritas and the paper hats either the Newspaper Hat or the Pyramidal Hat, both of which are called 'montera' in other later sources.

**********

The Cocotte / Pajarita - 1801 onwards

**********

1845

Designs for two birds, a crane made from the irregular slit octagon base, and a chicken made from the irregular slit octagon base, appear in the 'Kan No Mado', which is usually dated to 1845.

Crane (a standing version, not the traditional Orizuru design)

***

Chicken

**********

The Simple Crane - c1850 onwards

**********

The Flapping Bird - 1885 onwards

**********

1889

'La Nature' of 28th September 1889 contained an article headed 'Recreation Scientifiques' and subheaded 'La Grenouille Japonaise en Papier' (The Japanese Paper Frog) which mentions the Paris Exposition of 1889 and states (here in translation) 'We also noticed in the exhibition other designs among which were the crab from red paper, the junk and the hat of Daimios (demon), the parrot etc.,' Unfortunately, lacking an illustration, there is no way of knowing which design of parrot is being referred to here.

**********

The Cut Swallow / The Copper Pheasant- 1900 onwards

**********

The Albatross - 1912 onwards

**********

The Simple Crow - 1927 onwards

**********

The Plump Crane - 1927 onwards

**********

1931

The Nesting Crane - 1931 onwards

**********

The Fat Sparrow - 1931 onwards

**********

The Dove - 1931 onwards

**********

The Crow with Legs - 1931 onwards

**********

Instructions for making several other kinds of paper bird also appear in 'Origami (Part 1)' by Isao Honda, which was first published in Japan in 1931

The Nightingale

***

The Egret

(Pictures only - no folding diagrams)

**********

Le Moineau - 1932 onwards

**********

1939

A design for a Rooster, 'El gallo', can be found in 'El Mundo de Papel' by Dr Nemesio Montero, which was published by G Miranda in Edicions Infancia in Valladolid in 1939.

**********

The Japanese Robin (Cut) - 1951 onwards

**********

1951

'Origami: Folding Paper for Children' by Claude Sarasas, which was published by Kodansha in Tokyo in 1951, contains diagrams for a 'Flamingo', a 'Gull', and a 'Bird in a Nest' (cut).

**********

**********

**********

The extended version of 'El Mundo de Papel' by Dr Nemesio Montero, which was published by G Miranda in Edicions Infancia in Valladolid in 1951 contains several designs for paper birds, 'La Golondrina al Vuelo' (The Swallow in Flight), La Paloma (The Dove), El Cisne (The Swan) and El Pato (The Duck).

***

There is a resemblance between this design and the Swallow from Isao Honda's 'Origami Part One' pictured above.

***

La Paloma

***

El Cisne

***

El Pato

**********

1956

'Paper Magic' by Robert Harbin, which was published by Oldbourne in London in 1956 contains diagrams for several birds.

Harbin's 'Eagle' and 'Crow' (Cut)

***

Harbin's 'Turkey' (Cut)

***

The Homing Pigeon (attributed gto Rolf Harris)

**********

1959

A very simple design for a cut 'Swan' appears in 'Fun-time Paper Folding' by Elinor Tripato Massoglio, which was published by Childrens Press in Chicago in 1959.

**********

'How to Make Origami' by Isao Honda, which was published by Toto Shuppan Co. Ltd in Japan. by McDowell Obolensky of New York in the USA and by Museum Press Ltd of London in England, in 1959, contains diagrams for:

The Canary, which uses a cut to release the flaps that form the wings

***

The Owl - which uses cuts to release the flaps that form both the ears and the feet. (see also 1968)

***

The Wild Goose - which is made from an equilateral triangle

**********

'Pocket Guide to Origami: Bow-Wow Book', by Isao Honda, which was published by the Asahi Origami Club, Tokyo in 1959 contains diagrams for 'A Heron' (Cut), a Hen and A Pigeon.

***

***

**********

1963

Several designs for paper birds appear in the second edition of 'Het Grote Vouwboek' by Aart van Breda, which was published by Uitgeverij van Breda in 1963.

Bird

***

Bird

***

Bird's Nest

***

Hen on its Nest

***

Pelican

**********

1959

The 1959 Rupert Annual contains instructions for folding this 'Paper Bird'.

**********

1968

The cut owl also appears in 'Your Book of Paperfolding' by Vanessa and Eric de Maré, which was published by Faber and Faber in London in 1968, where it was is to be a traditional Japanese design.

**********

1970

The 1970 Rupert Annual contains instructions for making a 'Mystery Bird' which can be posed to look like a kiwi, a vulture or a bittern.

**********

1971

The 1971 Rupert Annual contains instructions for folding a 'Swimming Bird' developed from the Pajarita.

**********

1976

The 1976 Rupert Annual contains instructions for making a 'Humming Bird'.

**********

1978

The 1978 Rupert Annual contains instructions for folding 'Rupert's Seagull', a design by John Smith. The instructions say that this is a flapping bird.

**********