Each envelope measures 200 x 138 mm. when folded. [Japan]: late Edo.
The Japanese learned how to use bark fiber from shrubs like kozo and gampi to make a thin but strong paper, useful in the house for sliding doors and screens. This washi paper was also suitable for folding. In the 14th to 16th centuries, the custom of formal decorative paper folding developed, called origata. This is the foundation of what we know today as origami.
The art of origata was first developed amongst Buddhist priests and aristocrats. Later, the higher class of samurai, who stressed formal manners and a sense of decorum, became interested and continued to refine this art. In the late Edo period, the merchant class also created origata. It was (and is) a method of wrapping gifts with very precious handmade papers used for gift-giving and ceremonies in order to maintain sound human relations. Origata techniques were inherited secretly through oral tradition and example.
To teach origata, samples were made and collected, such as the present assemblage. The four envelopes have manuscript labels stating that each contains various origata and revealing the methods of folding.
We find examples of origata in the forms of male and female butterflies to be used at weddings and others designed to contain presents of money or gold. Further origata are used to wrap scrolls and musical instruments, to hold red pigments for dyeing and makeup, to encase wood samples and tools for incense ceremonies, to make presents of bolts of silk, to hold picks for plucking musical instruments, to contain salt, to hold various shapes of paper for calligraphy and poetry writings as well as calligraphy tools, and to wrap books.
The interior of each envelope has a list of contents, and several have instructions.
Fine copies, all preserved in a chitsu. Minor worming.
Item ID: 8652