The Public Paperfolding History Project

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The Sanbo
 
This page attempts to record what is known about the origin and history of the origami design commonly known as the Sanbo. 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.

Sanbo is sometimes found written in the paperfolding literature as Sambo or Sanbow but I believe that Sanbo should be preferred.

There is a separate page for the Sanbo on Legs.

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In Japan

1735

This print by Nishikawa Sukenobu is sourced from the catalogue of an exhibition on paperfolding history held in Tatsuno City History and Culture Museum in 1999. The girl at the back is holding a Paper Crane. A Paper Boat and a Sanbo are lying on the floor.

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1832

This print from 1832 by Kunisada Utagawa, based on an earlier one by Katsushika Hokusai, shows a Sanbo lying on the stack of paper in front of the woman on the right. The Sanbo does not appear in the earlier print. Sourced from the catalogue of an exhibition on paperfolding history held in Tatsuno City History and Culture Museum in 1999.

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1844

This print, by Kunisada Utagawa, from 1844, which is similar to one from 1832 (see above), shows a Sanbo lying on the stack of paper on the floor. The paper has been decorated to suggest it is Chiyogami. Sourced from the catalogue of an exhibition on paperfolding history held in Tatsuno City History and Culture Museum in 1999.

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1845

There is a note in the 'Kan No Mado', usually dated to 1845, which lists a 'sambo' among those designs which are already well known and which are therefore not included in the ms (in order to spare the writer's pen). I do not know whether this note refers to the Sanbo or the Sanbo on Legs.

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1857

This print by Utagawa Toyokuni, which can be dated to 1857, shows a woman preparing to inflate a Paper Crane while a Sanbo sits on the floor in front of her. Source: 'Oru Kokoro', the catalogue of an exhibition on paperfolding history held in Tatsuno City History and Culture Museum in 1999.

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1869

The central lady in this triptych by Utagawa Kuniaki, which can be dated to 1869, is preparing to inflate a paper Crane, while a completed Sanbo, a Blow-up Frog and another design which I cannot identify lie on the floor in front of her. Source: 'Oru Kokoro', the catalogue of an exhibition on paperfolding history held in Tatsuno City History and Culture Museum in 1999.

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1878

A drawing of the Sanbo appears in 'Yochien Ombutsu No Zu', a publication of kindergarten material issued by the Tokyo Women's Normal School in 1878.

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1885

A drawing of the Sanbo also appears in 'Kindergarten Shoho' (Preliminary Kindergarten) by Iijima Hanjuro, which was copyrighted on October 4th Meiji 17 (1884) and published by Fukuda Senzo in August of Meiji 18 (1885).

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1912

A drawing of the Sanbo appears in a monozukushi-e print, by an unknown artist, but said to be from the Meiji era. I have temporarily assigned it the date of 1912, the last year of that era, pending the discovery of more accurate information.

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1927

A drawing of the Sanbo appears in an illustration by Takei Takeo in a 1927 issue of the children's magazine 'Kodomo No Kuni' (The Land of Chicken).

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In Western Europe / USA

I do not know when this design was first published outside Japan.

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