The Public Paperfolding History Project

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The Incense Packet
 
This page attempts to record what is known about the history of the traditional Japanese origami design the Incense Packet. 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.

There appear to be two distinct versions of this design, a simple one, and one folded on the diagonal in which the corners of the paper are used to create a decorative effect.

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1648

This print by Tosa Mitsonobu, which can be dated to 1648, shows a man holding two folded packets which appear to be the same as those which were later used to hold incense. Sourced from 'Oru Kikoro', the catalogue of an exhibition on paperfolding history held in Tatsuno City History and Culture Museum in 1999. The text is unclear but seems to state that these packets were used to hold make up tools.

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1723

This print by Nishikawa Sukenobu, from Volume 1 of 'Hyakunin Joro Shinasadame', which was published in 1723, shows an Incense Packet lying on the floor.

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1731

This print by Nishikawa Sukenobu, from Volume 2 of From 'Ehon Tokiwagusa' (Picture Book of the Evergreens), which was published in 1731 also shows an Incense Packet lying on the floor, although in this case it seems to be being used as part of a sewing kit.

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This print is from Volume 3 of the same book.

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1736

In this print by Nishikawa Sukenobu, from 'Ehon tamakazura', which was published in 1736, there is an Incense Packet lying on the floor in the right hand panel.

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1742

Both these prints by Nishikawa Sukenobu, from Volume 1 of 'Jokyo bunsho kagami', which was published in 1742, also show Incense Packets lying on the floor.

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1751

This illustration of the Incense Packet is taken from 'Onna Shorei Shutaizen' by Tatsunobo Kitao which was published in 1751. Sourced from 'Oru Kikoro', the catalogue of an exhibition on paperfolding history held in Tatsuno City History and Culture Museum in 1999.

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