Paper folding is the art of folding paper; it is known in many societies that use paper. In much of the West, the term "origami" is used synonymously with paper folding, though the term properly only refers to the art of paper folding in Japan.
Traditionally, there are four main types of paper folding, namely,
- Zhezhi, Chinese paper folding.
- Jong-ie-jeop-gi, from Korea.
- Origami, from Japan.
- Western paper folding.
Paper was first invented by Cai Lun in the Eastern Han Dynasty, 1st century, in China. In the 6th century, Buddhist monks carried paper to Korea and Japan. Chinese Paper Folding, or "zhezhi" (中國摺紙), is the art of paper folding that originated in China. It was later introduced to Korea where it is called "Jong-ie-jeop-gi" and to Japan where it is called "origami". Chinese "zhezhi" is the predecessor of "origami". The work of Akira Yoshizawa widely popularized the Japanese name "origami". The first Japanese "origami" is dated from this period. Due to political isolation of mainland China until the Qing Dynasty, examples of early "zhezhi" are rare in comparison to works from the same time from Japan and the West with their traditional paper boats, paper planes and paper hats.