A paperfolding paradise
The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell
|Formal Wrappers / Tsutsumi / Noshi|
|This page attempts to
record what is known about the origin and history of
folded paper Tsutsumi / Noshi. 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.
I have found it difficult to discover much definite information about this subject. I do not read Japanese so that my information is largely culled from sources in English.
Tsutsumi are Japanese formal wrappers, each design of wrapper being associated with a food or flower, and thus also often with a particular occasion or day of the year.
Ocho and mecho can be considered to be tsutsumi since they are wrappings for sake kettles or bottles.
Noshi are formal wrappers for dried abalone.
The Japanese book 'Onna Chohoki' (Women's Treasury) published in 1692 contains a section at the end of the book which illustrates the folding of various kinds of wrappers. One specimen page is shown below.
The Metropolitan Museum in New York has in its collection a scrapbook album of tsutsumi, the Origata Tehon of Kikuchi Fujiwara no Takehide, and various loose items which is dated the third month of 1697. One specimen page is shown here.
Further evidence for the folding of ceremonial wrappers comes from the 'Hoketsuki' (wrapping and tying) by Ise Sadatake, written in 1764. This book is also sometimes called the 'Tsutsumi-no Ki'. I do not know which designation is correct or why there are two different titles in use. One specimen page is shown below.
In his article 'History of Origami in the East and the West before Interfusion', published in 'Origami 5: Fifth International Meeting of Origami, Science, Mathematics and Education', .... Hatori Koshiro says 'According to Ise Sadatake ... such paperfolding was established in the Muromachi period (1333 to 1573)'. This may well, of course, be true, but, as far as I know, cannot yet be backed up by documentary evidence.
Pages 4 to 7 of the Kan No Mado, written in 1845, drawings of, and sometimes instructions for folding, several tsutsumi for several flowers and festivals, including a wrapper for the peach blossom for the Doll's Festival and for the chrysanthemum for the Choyo no Sekku.
1860 to 1879
These three small noshi, in which the dried abalone strips are printed as part of the internal image, can be dated to c1860 to 1879. They are folded from double squares which are first doubled. so that there is an image on the front and back of the resulting square, then folded into the noshi form. They open up to reveal graphic erotic images in the shunga style. For full details see https://research.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=778494&partId=1&searchText=noshi-gami&page=1
Isao Honda's book 'Noshi - Classic Origami in Japan', which was published by the Japan Publications Trading Company in 1964 gives several examples of folding methods for noshi, or noshita awabi, which are wrappers for dried abalone, as well as other, non-traditional folds for wrappers and containers.
In contemporary Japanese culture noshi are attached to gifts as a symbol of good wishes, although, since they are usually commercially produced, the dried abalone is usually represented just by a strip of paper. Alternatively, representations of noshi may simply be printed directly onto the wrapping paper itself.