Origami Heaven

A paperfolding paradise

The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell

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The Kabuto / Japanese Helmet / Samurai Helmet / Goldfish
 
This page attempts to record what is known about the origin and history of the origami design known as the Kabuto, Japanese Helmet or Samurai Helmet. 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.

In Japan

There is a note in the Kan No Mado, written in 1845, which lists a helmet among those designs which are already well known and which are therefore not included in the ms (in order to spare the writer's pen). I do not know whether this note refers to the Kabuto or to some other design.

In the West

The Kabuto does not appear to be part of the Froebelian repertoire and I cannot find it in any of the early books about Froebelian education.

Page 133 of 'Houdini's Paper Magic', published by E P Dutton and Company of New York in 1922, contains diagrams for a design called The Chapeau, which is the same as the modern Kabuto design except that the horns, here called 'cockades' and are folded at a lower position. The Chapeau is said to be of Japanese origin.

A version of the design with the 'cockades' in the higher position and a decorative border to the front bottom edge appears in Margaret Campbell's 'Paper Toy Making', first published in London in 1936 as the 'Japanese Helmet'.

I cannot find an early reference for the use of cuts to develop the Kabuto into the Goldfish.