Origami Heaven

A paperfolding paradise

The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell


The Pajarita / Cocotte / Krähe / Hobby Horse

This page attempts to record what is known about the origin and history of the traditional origami design known as the Pajarita in Spain, the Cocotte in France, the Hobby Horse in England and the Krähe (or Crow) in Germany. For simplicity I will refer to the design by the name Pajarita on this page, even though the evidence I am setting out may come from a country other than Spain. Please contact me if you know any of this information is incorrect or if you have any other important information that should be added. Thank you.

Like many other traditional paperfolds the Pajarita is probably much older than the evidence for its existence, though just how old it is, of course, impossible to say.

This design is a traditional one in Western Europe but, according to Koshiro Hatori in his article 'History of Origami in the East and the West before Interfusion', published in 'Origami 5: Fifth International Meeting of Origami, Science, Mathematics and Education', was not known in Japan until the kindergarten system became established there.

So far as I know the design first appears in the historical record in a painting by Jeanne Elisabeth Chaudet Husson (1767 to 1832) entitled 'Marie-Laetitia Murat portant le buste de Napolean', which can be dated to 1806.

In Wilhelm von Kügelgen's book "Jugenderinnerungen eines alten Mannes" (Youth Memoirs of an Old Man), published by Wilhelm Herz Verlag Berlin in 1870, Kügelgen describes how he learned a folding figure (which we now know as the Ross und Reiter or Horse and Rider) from his tutor, the painter Carl Adolf Senff (1785 - 1863) adapted from the traditional Krähe (or Crow) using 'a special trick'. Some of the original designs folded by Carl Adolf Senff still survive in the German National Museum in Nuremberg and can be dated to around 1812.

A Pajarita is also depicted in the painting 'The Merrymakers' by Carolus Duran of Paris, which is in the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts and can be dated to 1870.

A third painting depicting Pajaritas, by the french painter Étienne-Adolphe Piot (1850-1910), and titled 'A young girl with origami birds' (though that cannot be the original title since the word origami would not have been in use in Europe during his lifetime) appeared in a catalogue for a sale at Sotheby’s auction house in early 2017.

The Pajarita does not appear in Cassell's Complete Book of Games and Pastimes, published in 1882.

There is a drawing of the Pajarita in Eleenore Heerwart's Froebelian 'Course of Paperfolding', published in 1895. I do not know whether or not the Pajarita was one of the standard repertoire of Froebelian paperfolds.

Diagrams for the Pajarita, called the Rooster in this instance, were included in 'Fun with Paperfolding' by Murray and Rigney, first published in 1928.