The Public Paperfolding History Project

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The Cut Swallow
This page attempts to record what is known about the origin and history of the origami design that I call the Cut Swallow. 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.

Although this is almost certainly a Japanese design, it appears first in a Western European source.



As far as I know this design first appears in the issue of 'Revue des arts décoratifs' of 1st January 1900 in a chapter written by Felix Regamey and titled 'L'enseignement du Dessin dans les E'coles de Files au Japon'. P117 contains a picture of the Cut Swallow and says 'Dans les classes élémentaires, les exercices devant conduire à l'étude du dessin proprement dit auxquels on a recours sont, comme chez nous, le pliage, le découpage et le collage, après quoi vient le piquage sur carton, représentant des sujets simples, à l'aide de fils de soie. Comme exemple de pliage : une galiote,un oiseau. Un papillon rose, des herbes vertes en papier, découpés et collés, font un petit tableau ; un éventail dans les fleurs, un poisson dans l'eau, exécutés en soie, donnent lieu à des sujets plus compliqués.'

In English, roughly, 'In elementary classes, the exercises which lead to the study of the drawing itself are, as in our case, folding, cutting.and gluing, after which comes stitching on cardboard, representing simple subjects, using silk threads. As an example of folding: a galiote, a bird. A pink butterfly, green paper herbs, cut and glued, make a small painting; a fan in the flowers, a fish in the water, executed in silk, giving rise to more complicated subjects.'

Unusually the 'bird' is the Cut Swallow not the Paper Crane. The 'galiote' is not pictured and so cannot be identified.



The same material was subsequently republished in ' Le Dessin et som Emseignement dans les Ecoles de Tokyo' by Felix Regamey in Paris in 1902, the only substantial difference, being that the words 'un galiote' were omitted from the text, probably for reasons of layout.



The same image was also published in Livraison 4 of 'Le Japon en images' by Felix Regamey, in 1904.



The first appearance of this design that I know of in Japan is in 'Origami (Part 1)' by Isao Honda, which was first published in Japan in 1931. The finished Cut Swallow is turned into a Copper Pheasant (in step 13).



The design also appears in 'Origami: Book Three' by Florence Sakade, which was published by the Charles E Tuttle Company in Rutland, Vermont and Tokyo in 1959.


A version of the same design in which the wings have been opened out appears in 'Pocket Guide to Origami: Bow-Wow Book', by Isao Honda, which was published by the Asahi Origami Club, Tokyo in 1959.