A paperfolding paradise
The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell
|The Kan No Mado|
|This page attempts to
record what is known about the Japanese ms commonly known
as the Kan No Mado. Please contact me if you know any of
the information on this page is incorrect or if you have
any other information that should be added. Thank you.
The information on this page is drawn from the introduction to a facsimile of the Starr copy of the ms written by Julia and Martin Brossman and messages sent to the Origami Mailing List by David Lister on 20/10/1999 and Koshiro Hatori on 23/10/1999.
The Kan No Mado is a 63 page ms forming part of a much larger encyclopaedia which is owned by the Osaka Asahi newspaper in Japan and held in their library. The Kan No Mado ms is volume 223 of this encyclopaedia and comes from a section of the encyclopaedia entitled the Kayagarusa. The words Kan No Mado appear on the last page of the ms. They are not a title but more of an end note. They translate as 'Winter Window' which Koshiro Hatori interprets as a self-deprecatory statement meaning something like 'My humble encyclopaedia will be crumpled and used as packing which stops cold drafts blowing through winter windows.' The Kan No Mado was written by Katsuyuki Adachi.
In around 1920 Professor Frederick Starr, an anthropologist on the faculty of University of Chicago, was allowed to make (or to have made) a copy of the ms for his own use which he took back to the USA. He described the ms in his article 'The Art of Paper-Folding in Japan' published on pages 22 and 23 of the 1922 edition of 'Japan: Overseas Travel Magazine'. On his death in 1933 the copy ms went to the Library of Congress in Washington along with other archive material.
By the time Gershon Legman compiled his bibliography of paperfolding in 1952 the location of both the original ms and Professor Starr's copy were unknown. The Starr copy was not located until 1960 when a search of Professor Starr's archive material was carried out at the request of Julia Brossman. A facsimile of the copy ms was subsequently published in 1961 by Pinecone Press of Washington, DC under the title 'A Japanese Paperfolding Classic (Excerpt from the "Lost" Kan no mado). It was prepared for publication ('interpreted and edited') by Julia and Martin Brossman and translated by Thomas K Takeshita and Katsuyo L Takeshita. No date for the original work is given although Professor Starr's article (see below) states that he believed the work to be 70 years old or more in 1922. This would give a date of around 1850. The usual date given for the original ms is 1845, five years earlier. The ms itself is undated and I do not know what the evidence for the 1845 date is.
The original ms was, of course, never lost. David Lister notes, however, that it was probably unavailable because the Osaka Asahi building was being rebuilt and their library was in store.
The material included in volume 223 of the Kayagarusa is quite varied and seems to represent a collection of designs from various sources. Here is a brief description of the contents:
Page 3 - Instructions for folding Ogasawara style Ocho and Mecho butterflies (folded from waterbomb bases without cuts).
Pages 4 to 7 - Instructions for folding tsutsumi or wrappers (folded from squares and rectangles without cuts).
Pages 8 and 9 - Instructions for folding and cutting a square into a six-pointed star (Star of David) in which the points are further separated by cuts into the central hexagon.
Pages 10 to 16 - Instructions for folding designs developed from this six-pointed base: Page 10 and 11 - Bee: Page 12 - Dragonfly: Page 13 - Dancing Monkey: Page 14 - Wild Boar: Page 15 - Fukusuke (prosperous man): Page 16 - Saya Otome (rice planting maid).
Pages 17 and 18 - Instructions for folding and cutting a square into a four-pointed star in which the points are further separated by cuts into the central square.
Pages 19 to 23 - Instructions for folding designs developed from this four-pointed base: Pages 19 and 20 - Manzai (comic dancer): Page 21 - Kayoi Komachi (suitor of Komachi):Page 22 - Hakuzosu (priest): Page 23 - Persimmon and Eggplant.
Page 24 - Note mentioning other designs, the sembazuru (sic), boat, flowers, lotus, sambo (tray), box, komuso (minstrel), thread container and helmet, which are stated to be already well known and which are not therefore be included in the ms (to spare the writer's pen).
Pages 25 to 27 - Instructions for folding and cutting a square into a second, irregular, six-pointed star in which the points are further separated by cuts into the central area.
Pages 28 to 33 - Designs developed from this irregular six-pointed base: Pages 28 and 29: Wrestler Going Into The Ring: Page 30 - Crane (a standing version, not the traditional Tsuru design):Page 31 - Sambaso (figure from a prelude to a show): Page 32 - Long Armed Monkey: Page 33 - Chicken.
Pages 34 and 35 - Instructions for developing an Octopus (with eight legs) from an eight-pointed star.
Page 36 - Instructions for folding the traditional Cicada (from an uncut square).
Page 37 and 38 - Instructions for folding a Spider (with eight legs) from a strange shape consisting of three squares joined in the centre by their corners.
Pages 39 and part of 40 - Instructions for folding an Iris from an uncut hexagon (essentially similar to the traditional method from a square).
Part of page 40 and page 41 - Instructions for folding a Snail (from a single uncut square).
Pages 42 to 44 - Instructions for folding a Crab (with eight legs and two pincers) from a square partially divided into four smaller squares by cuts.
Pages 45 and 46 - Instructions for folding a Lobster in a similar way.
Page 47 - Instructions for folding a blow-up Frog (from an uncut square).
Page 48 - Instructions for folding a Prawn from a long rectangle (using cuts to separate the seven feelers from each other).
Pages 49 to 59 - Instructions for folding eleven Dolls from patterns drawn on squares. Each pattern is partially divided into four smaller squares in the similar way to the Crab and Lobster designs.
Pages 60 and 61 - Page 60 has a note that other designs for a peacock, praying mantis, lily of the valley, globe fish and fox wedding exist but are not included because they are not good representations. These two pages also carry extracts from poems. I do not understand their significance in the context.
Pages 62 and 63 - The ms is identified as Kayagarusa Maki 8, written by Katsuyuki Adachi, Kan No Mado, Volume 233.
It can be seen that most of the designs rely on cuts to allow the creation of points, the exceptions being the Ocho and Mecho butterflies, the wrappers, the Cicada, the Lily, the Snail and the Frog. Many of the designs also use the blow-up technique to create three-dimensional heads and bodies..
A note on page 47 refers to step 4 of the Crane but this does not tie up with step 4 of the Crane on page 30 leading the editors to believe that 'this refers to directions given for an ordinary crane in another book'. If this second volume ever existed it appears to have been completely lost.