The Lister List

Pleated Prawns

On 19th January, Penny Groom asked for an origami prawn or shrimp on behalf of a new member who remembered one from the 1970s.

Anita Spider pointed to the Shrimp in Isao Honda's 'World of Origami" (first published in 1965) and it seems that this was probably the remembered model. The reference to the 1970s indicates that "The World of Origami" was, indeed the actual source which was remebered, if not the actual original publication of the fold.

But this question is much more interesting than appears at first sight. The Shrimp appears for the first time in a book, not by Honda, but by Yoshizawa. The earliest I have been able to trace it is in Yoshizawa's "Origami Dokuhon 1" in the original edition dated 1957. Readers will, no doubt be familiar with the hard-backed reprint of Origami Dokuhon 1, which was re-issued in 1967 with a page size of 180 mm X 258 mm. By contrast the first edition was a small paperbacked booklet of only half the size (130 mm X 180 mm).

Yoshizawa is not usually associated with cutting, and indeed, he rarely used scissors. In the Introduction to his first books, "Atarashii Origami Geijutsu" ( "New Paperfolding Art") which was published in 1955, he wrote:

"There are one or two things which I would like to point out regarding my methods of Origami Creation. I have avoided the use of scissors because I did not want my origami worked to transgress beyond the field of "paper folding". The art of Origami should be differentiated from pure paper cutting. For the same reason, I did not colour the patterns nor did I draw lines on them, that is. I did not add eyes and noses on the face part of my patterns. All of which additional touches deprive the Origami of its symbolic beauty".

In retrospect, Yoshizawa's rejection of cutting was probably onme of the reasons why the "New Origami" of the 1950s and 1960s developed with such a rigid opposition to cutting, so that in his "Paper Magic" (1956), Robert Harbin could lay down the rule that "the model must be achieved by folding only, without the aid of scissors or glue". This approach was certainly not traditional in either Japan or the West, where paper crafts were all lumped together and paper folding did not have a separate identity until towards the end of the 19th Century. it was probably the the Froebelians probably added to the demarcation of a boundary between paper folding and paper cutting. It was certainly not a rule of Yoshizawa's contemporary, Kosho Uchiyama, whose book of "cut and fold" origami, "Orgami Zukan" was published in 1958, very shortly after Yoshizawa's "Origami Dokuhon 1".

Despite this, however, Yoshizawa was occasionally prepared to cut. It will be remembered that in the 1950s, the blintzed bases were only slowly emerging in the West and without them, animals folded with a head, a tail and four separate legs were virutally impossible to fold. It was the age of three-legged quadrupeds. Yoshizawa got round the problem by folding his quadrupeds from two squares of paper and then gluing the front part and the rear part together. It seems that when he paid his first visit to England, he was surprised by the vehemence with which the British folders were enthusiastic about models folded from one piece of paper and that he went home and developed his own models following this rule. Nevertheless, his two-piece models continued to appear in all of his subsequent books. And still the argument about the necessity of "pure origami" from a single uncut square rages on among the paperfolders of today.

Yoshizawa's Shrimp (or is it a prawn?) appears on page 32 of the first edition of "Origami Dokuhon 1" and it is folded from a kite bases beginning in the same way as the traditional Swan. The antennae of feelers are formed from two strips cut from two adjacent sides of the square and then threaded through a hole cut in the shrimp's head. Folded from red paper, it really is a stunning model of beautiful simplicity notwithstanding its breach of Robert Harbin's First Rule of Origami.

But was it Yoshizawa's own model?

In 1957, Isao Honda also began to publish books of Origami. Perhaps curiously, his books were in English and aimed at the Western market. The first was "Origami Penguin Book", which was ostensibly compiled not by Honda himself, but by a supposed body called "The Toto Origami Club". A whole succession of books under the same authorship followed, Honda's authorship, gradually becoming more specific. The second volume was "Origami Monkey Book" (1958) and this book has a picture of the red Shrimp on the front cover and instructions for it are given as the fourth model. It is named, not a Shrimp or a Prawn, but a "Japanese Lobster". This series of books is very attractively designed and actual folded models of most of the folds are glued to the pages, but curiously enough, there is no folded model of the Shrimp in the Monkey Book.

Instructions for the Shrimp next appear in a small booklet (the size of Origami Dokuhon 1) named "A Pocket Guide to Origami" where it is called a "Lobster", not a shrimp. It is, however, exactly identical with the model in Yoshizawa's "Origami Dokuhon 1".There is a bright orange-red picture of the completed models, but again, no folded example.It could be because the repeated pleating of the tail makes the models too thick and bulky for this purpose.

Never one to waste a good model, Honda included the Shrimp (called, again, a Lobster) in his "All About Origami" (1960). This book was a composite collection of the models in Honda's preceding books and it can now be seen as the predecessor to "The World of Origami" (1965), in which the Shrimp appears again. it also appears in a re-hashed book under Honda's name, "Origami Holiday" (1967).

And what of the third of the trio, Kosho Uchiyama? He too has a simple shrimp in "Origami Zukan" (1958), but it is different from that of Yoshizawa and Honda. Honda forms his model from pleats radiating from one corner. The antennae are narrow strips cut from the sides of the square, but they do not thread through a hole cut in the head. The same model is repeated in Kosho Uchiyama's magnum opus, "Origami" (1962).

Now something interesting happens. The second, larger-format edition of Yoshizawa's "Origamai Dokuhon 1) appeared in 1967. Apart from the larger format and clearer pictures, it was identical with the first edition in all respects except one: the Shrimp has been omitted! In its place is what appears to be a Kusudama or hanging ornament. In both editions of Origami Dokuhon 1, the previous page has instructions for folding a Kusudama from several salt cellars and, apparently morning-glory-type flowers. The folding of the Kusudama on the following page of the second edition follows on from the salt cellars.

Now why did Yoshizawa switch the models? I can suggest three possible reasons: 1: He had decided to eliminate the shrimp because it require blatant cutting. or 2. The model was not his own; perhaps it was Honda's and by 1967 Yoishizawa was becoming much more sensitive to people copying his own models or creating models very similar to his models. So did he decided to remove any possible cause of such criticism against himself? or 3: Yoshizawa had, in the meantime, created the second Kusudama and genuinely wanted to show it. Something had to make way for it and this was the Shrimp.

In a posting on 20th January, Kenneth Kawamura wrote that Akira Yoshizawa had a visually similar shrimp in one of his books what was folded from a birdbase with no cuts. We have already met with confusion between the different terms for various crustaceans. The small ones are variously called shrimps and prawns. Bigger ones are called Crayfish and bigger ones, still, are Lobsters. In translating from Japanese to English, it is difficult to be consistent and we have found that what is sometimes called a shrimp or a prawn may be called a Lobster by Honda.

The crustacean by Yoshizawa which may be the one mentioned by Kenneth appears in "Haha to ko no Tanoshii Origami" ("Enjoyable Origami for Mother and Child" (1979). The same model also appears in "Origami Hakubutsushi" ("Origami Museum") volume I, also published in 1979. This volume was translated into English as Origami Museum I, Animals (1987). Here the name is translated as "Lobster". It is folded from half a bird base folded on a right-angled triangle (or a bird base folded into half along one of the diagonals). This base was one of the triangular bases shown by Yoshizawa in Origami Dokuhon 1. Moderately long antennae are produced which do not need cuts for their production. The animal, however does not have the large claws of a true lobster and resembles a prawn or crayfish. Two finished versions of this "lobster" are illustrated, one with a straight tail and one with a curled one. The "feel" of this model tells us that it is a typical Yoshizawa original.

However, Yoshizawa was preceded by no less than 22 years by Honda with his model of a true Lobster. A photograph of it first appears in "Origami, Penguin Book", (1957), where is included on a page at the end with the heading, "Other origami to appear in future editions". The diagrams eventually appeared two years later in Honda's "How to Make Origami", where it is given the name the name, "Lobster".. It is folded from an equilateral triangle, folded as a quasi frog base. Like Yoshizawa's Lobster, it has large claws, but Honda produces them with short cuts. Unlike Yoshizawa's Lobster, Honda's does not have antennae. In this instance an actual folded red lobster is glued to the page. The curled tail is produced in the usual manner by repeated pleating.

Honda's "lobster" (what appears to be a true lobster) is repeated in his "All About Origami" (1960) in addition to Honda's shrimp (called, here, a "lobster") But the true lobster it is given yet another name and is here called a "Crawfish".

Both models again appear in "The World of Origami (1965). They also appear in the shortened paperbacked version of the book which was published in 1976 and which is still in print. The true shrimp is here called a Shrimp, while the lobster is called a "Crayfish" (note the slight change in spelling).

All very confusing, but when all is sorted out there are four distinct models:

1. The original Shrimp from a square shown by both Yoshizawa and Honda.

2. Kosho Uchiyama's Shrimp from a square.

3. Yoshizawa's Lobster from a triangle (which he actually called a Lobster).

4. Honda's Lobster from a triangle which he calls variously, a Lobster, a Crawfish and a Crayfish.

And what of Robert Harbin's basic Rule of Origami?

Harbin continues: "As with all rules, certain exceptions have already been acknowledged. There are standard models in existence which, with a small scissor-snip, become so perfect that the end is held to justify the means.

You can still have your lobster and eat it!

David Lister Grimsby, England.

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Rabbit by Stephen O'Hanlon