Friday, January 3, 2014

The Chinese Zodiac: An Origami Story

Now that we've celebrate, rested, and adjusted our brains to the new year (well, sort of. I just dated a check "January 2013"), it's time to get back to work. I don't believe in New Year's resolutions, because if you were going to do it, it would not require all the theatrics and fanfare, would it? But I have concocted some new origami projects for 2014. To kick it off, I have summoned forth the twelve animals of the zodiac in a glorious procession to tell us the story of the Chinese Zodiac.

Origami Buddha in zen meditation
by Claudio Maranta

One day, God, Buddha, or the Wizard, whichever you prefer, invited the animals to a banquet. During the feast, they would decide which twelve animals would become the signs of the zodiac.

Origami Cat Tutorial

The Rat and the Cat were very excited. They decided they would go early to secure their places. The Cat made the Rat promise to wake him in time for the banquet. (If you are not bothered by the fact that the animals can talk but find it odd that the rat is bigger than the cat, then...too bad.)

Cat Nap by Philip Shulz
But the next day, in a fit of squeaky excitement, the Rat forgot his promise and rushed off to the banquet, leaving the Cat asleep. By the time he woke up, it was already too late, for twelve animals had arrived before him, and the Cat was excluded from the zodiac.

So there were the twelve animals for the twelve zodiac signs, and the lineup was complete. Buddha announced to the animals that there would be a race across the river to determine the order of the twelve signs. 

When the signal was given, the animals all rushed to the river. Each wanted to be the first to make it across, probably not realizing that after a few millenia it really wouldn't matter whose year came first in the cycle. 

Right before they set out, the Rat jumped up onto the back of the Cow (or Ox if you prefer) unnoticed by anyone. That's right, I said unnoticed.

They all ran and jumped into the river and swam as fast as they could. As the race was nearing its end, the Cow was ahead of all of them and was almost at the finish. Even though there was like, a flying dragon in the race. But whatever. 

At that moment, the Rat jumped off the Cow's back and onto the shore. 
The little son of a mother had done it again! And this time, he had won the race!

And so it was that the Rat came in first, and the order of the zodiac signs was decided:

Cute Mouse by Jacky Chan
Cow by Makato Yamaguti

Origami Tiger Tutorial
Traditional Origami Rabbit Tutorial 

Snake Dragon by Marc Vigo
A very simple Streaked Snake

Origami Persian Horse by Dale Walton
Origami Sheep Tutorial

Traditional Origami Monkey Tutorial
Rooster by Florence Temko

Traditional Origami Dog Tutorial
Piggy by Hoàng Tiến Quyết

In the Chinese Calendar, 2014 is the Year of the Horse.

So move aside, Snake. 

In honor of the Year of the Horse, which happens to be my year, and which to my dismay, I've already seen three times in my life (that must mean I'm getting old, right?), I thought I'd experiment with a couple of models. This next one was fun, and slightly more complex than the previous one, but if you are going to attempt this model, my advice is: use big paper. No, really, the biggest you can get. Just to illustrate how small this model comes out, the horse in the photograph below is standing in front of your standard d20 and d10 dice. Yes, it's that small. 

Origami Horse designed by David Brill

Technical note: This model starts with an equilateral triangle rather than a square. The paper I used was the standard 15cm x 15cm which I cut into a triangle. I had to skip a few minor steps because at some point it got too small to fold.

Enjoy these models, and may your year be full of many more!

Happy 2014 from Paper Moon!

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