History of the valley and mountain folding lines

Creating origami diagrams
Joan Sallas
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History of the valley and mountain folding lines

Postby Joan Sallas » Tue Mar 13, 2012 2:36 pm

We know today that the valley and mountain folding lines were used for other authors before Samuel Randlett and Akira Yoshizawa proposed them to the origami comunity.

They are enough witness of that, as Tom Tit [Pseud. of Arthur Good, 1853 - 1928] in "Joujoux en papier" ([1924]), J. C. Max in "Kartonarbeid" (6th edition 1933) or Erich Wittich in "Papierspiele. Band I." (Borna, Nov. 1945) and "Papierspiele. Band II." (April 1946).

In my research about this subject I suppose that high probably Yoshizawa and Randlet "borrowed" this system from a convention of the cartonage industry, and that the only new in Yoshizawa was the line-dot-dot-line for the mountain fold line. The other graphic folding lines (included the line-dot-line for mountain) existed before him.

I propose to have a look in our old folding books before 1950 and comment which folding lines were used, and in which sense.

joan sallas

Nick
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Re: History of the valley and mountain folding lines

Postby Nick » Wed Mar 14, 2012 11:16 am

At your lecture in Freiburg 2010, you explained how clothes makers used a similar system any years ago and that this may have influenced what we use today?

Laura Rozenberg
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Re: History of the valley and mountain folding lines

Postby Laura Rozenberg » Tue Jul 08, 2014 9:11 pm

I want to share with you an intriguing finding. Maybe not intriguing for you but for me it is. After buying the Neal Elias DVD by Dave Venables, and reading the introduction by David Lister to the work of NE, something rang in my mind and I went to the correspondence between Neal Elias and Gershon Legman. Most of you know, but for those who don't, I own most of the original correspondence between Gershon Legman and other paperfolders of his era.

NE wrote his first letter to GL on July 21, 1952 (that date was unknown by Lister). The letter is here:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/kncvs8b8on7u ... 9Uuxmv0nma

Then, GL replies with an undated letter (also available in the above link), but we can easily pinpoint it between late July to end of August, because the next letter by NE to GL is from Sept 4th and is a reply to that letter by GL (all three letters are in the above link. The first letter by NE and the letter by GL are in one file).

What puzzles me in the GL letter is that he explains to NE the system of notation with valley and mountain folds, using these very names, and in order to explain the elephant step folds he is sending along with the letter, he uses the graphic representation of line-line (- - -) and line-dot-line (-.-.-).

At that time, GL was not aware of the existence of Akira Yoshiawa, least he knew the system of notation he was already using in his contributions to Fujin Koron (a ladies magazine): we are talking of August 1952 and Legman began corresponding with Yoshizawa almost one year later.

Moreover, the first book by AY that has the system of notation is Atarashii Origami Geijutsu (1954).

So where did GL get those names from? Is it possible that he read about them in a different set of books? I see that Joan Sallas mentions that there were books in the 19th century in which the words mountain and valley folds were being used. My question now is: do these books used symbols like dash-dash and dash-dot-dash (as expressed by GL) to represent the valley and the mountain fold or they used the single symbol dash-dash no matter if the fold was forward or backward, which seemed to be the default convention before AY? Sallas says these convention --- and -.-.- existed before Yoshizawa but I would like to know in what books he found those symbols.

And if these books were already using the terms mountain and valley folds, and they were differentiating the direction of the fold, isn't time to review the real contribution of AY to the system of notation?

Since I started thinking on this, I also corresponded with Robert Lang, who gave his invaluable insight into this interesting matter. I hope others join this discussion which promises to be juicy and rewardable as it touches the very foundation of the 20th century origami movement.

Nick
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Re: History of the valley and mountain folding lines

Postby Nick » Fri Jul 11, 2014 4:35 pm

Joan Sallas has information that our folding lines are developed from 19th century dress-makers instructions. Joan?

ahudson
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Re: History of the valley and mountain folding lines

Postby ahudson » Fri Dec 12, 2014 11:01 pm

Here's a summary of dashed lines used in books that I've found public-domain scans of online:
  • Maria Kraus-Boelte, "The Kindergarten Method" (1882) uses dashed lines for both active folds and precreased marks.
  • T. de Moulidars, "Les Grand Encyclopedie des Joyeux" (1888?) uses dashed lines for active folds in some drawings; in others, it uses them to illustrate where a flap will end up after folding (which I'll refer to as 'future edges'). In one model, dotted lines are used to indicate precreases.
  • T. Sundara Row, "Geometric Exercises in Paperfolding" (1917 edition) uses only solid lines.
  • Houdini, "Paper Magic" (1922), uses dotted lines for active fold lines, hidden edges, and future edges.

In contrast, the earliest books which I actually own copies of all use dashed lines exclusively for active folds:
  • Maying Soong, "Chinese Paperfolding for Beginners" (1948, dover reprint in 2001)
  • Claude Sarasas, "ABCs of Paperfolding" (1951, Tuttle reprint in 1974)
  • Isao Honda, "How to Make Origami" (undated, but Lister gives a date of 1959 for this title)
  • Florence Sakade, "Origami: The Art of Japanese Paper Folding" (three volumes, 1957-1959)
  • Harry C. Helfman, "Origami" (1960)

Interesting to note that Soong's book uses dashed lines for all folds-- *except* on page 94, which uses dot-dash lines. The folds on page 94 also happen to be mountain folds, but that may be coincidental.

Aside from this anomaly, the earliest sources I have which include dot-dash lines are the first issue of the Origamian (October 1958, probably drawn by Lillian Oppenheimer), Robert Harbin's "Origami 1" (1958), and Samuel Randlett's books from 1961. Harbin and Randlett both give credit to Yoshizawa for introducing the diagramming symbols.

Michel G
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Re: History of the valley and mountain folding lines

Postby Michel G » Sat Dec 13, 2014 11:09 pm

Thanks Andrew for this account.

Some informations :

For "T. de Moulidars", the exact title is "La grande encyclopédie des jeux" (1888).
You can visualise at http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k1105156
This book as been published before (1880) under the title "Un million de jeux et de plaisirs".

For "Maying Soong", the exact original title is "Chinese Paper Folding for Young and Old" (1948) reprinted as "Chinese Paperfolding for Beginners" by Dover in 2001.

I'm curious about "Robert Harbin's "Origami 1" (1958)"...
For me the date could be 1968 as I think the contents is the same as "Teach yourself origami".
See a Harbin's bibliography here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Harbin
or you would like to refer to "Paper Magic" (1956) ?
Last edited by Michel G on Fri Apr 24, 2015 6:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Laura Rozenberg
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Re: History of the valley and mountain folding lines

Postby Laura Rozenberg » Wed Jan 14, 2015 3:14 pm

On July 2nd, 1952, Ligia Montoya (Argentine paperfolder) wrote one of her first letters to Gershon Legman. Accompanying this letter was a diagram of a seal which she reproduced by looking at a picture published in an article about Vicente Solórzano Sagredo (the seal was his creation). What's interesting about this, is that Ligia is instructing (showing) Legman a good way to differentiate the folds. She uses dash-dash for valley folds (although she doesn't use the name "valley" nor the Spanish word "valle") and the dash-dot-dash line for the mountain fold. The way she describes is as follows: "The lines -.-.-.- are folded inwards and the - - - - outwards".
Smart and quick as he was, Legman, picked up immediately the "convention" and rightfully used it in a letter to Neal Elias (that's the letter I referred in a previous comment on this thread). So the mystery of where Legman got the idea is solved. However, he uses the words "mountain" and "valley", which were not used by Ligia. Does it mean they occurred to him or he read it somewhere else?
Also, we don't know yet where Ligia got the convention that she was using at that time.
Of course, neither Ligia nor Legman were in contact with Akira Yoshizawa in 1952 (Legman would start corresponding with him a year later).
Joan Sallas has said they must have taken from cardboard teaching textbooks. But which one? What was available to Ligia Montoya in Spanish (or maybe in French or English)? That we don't know yet but would be interesting to find out.
This is another proof that shows that the convention dash-dash and dash-dot-dash was around and being used before the Yoshizawa system became the standard code for communication in the origami world.
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Laura Rozenberg
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Re: History of the valley and mountain folding lines

Postby Laura Rozenberg » Thu Jan 15, 2015 11:15 pm

I believe that the confusion regarding the origins of the notation system arise, in part, from the following sentence written by David Lister, which set the path to believe that Yoshizawa was the actual "creator" of the dash-dash and dash-dot-dash convention, when he certainly was not.
Laura Rozenberg

bugfolder
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Re: History of the valley and mountain folding lines

Postby bugfolder » Thu Jan 15, 2015 11:37 pm

In my email correspondence with Laura in July 2014, I think we had established some dates re Honda/Yoshizawa and the fold line patterns:

--In Honda's 1931 book On Origami (おりがみ. 上), he was using a single line style.

Sometime between 1931 and 1944, Honda and Yoshizawa became connected.

--In Origami Shuko, Honda's 1944 book, at least some of the instructions use dash-dot-dot-dash lines for mountain folds. Origami Shuko also contains work acknowledged to be by Yoshizawa.

At some point after that, Honda and Yoshizawa had a falling out.

In Honda's subsequent books, he went back to a single line pattern, but began adding the symbol for "mountain" (or "P" for peak) next to his mountain fold lines.

In all Yoshizawa instructions from the 1950s and after, he uses dashes for valleys and dot-dashes for mountains.

Does anyone know whether Montoya had access to Origami Shuko between its 1944 publication and the 1952 letter from her to Legman?

It seems that Origami Shuko remains the earliest known usage of dashes for valleys, dash-dot-dot for mountains, correct?

The question is, did AY influence IH to use that notation in Shuko, and then IH went back to his own notation after they had their falling out?

Laura Rozenberg
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Re: History of the valley and mountain folding lines

Postby Laura Rozenberg » Sat Jan 17, 2015 11:37 pm

bugfolder wrote: Does anyone know whether Montoya had access to Origami Shuko between its 1944 publication and the 1952 letter from her to Legman?


I don't believe Ligia Montoya had access to Origami Shuko. Gershon Legman had been desperately looking for that book and he left no stone unturned. Ligia and Gershon corresponded profusely especially during the early years (1951-1965). Had Ligia used or knew about that book she would have certainly told him. Although I don't have a proof of it (e.g. a letter saying "I don't have it"), she frequently suggested Legman what origami books she was using. They exchanged books frequently and they mutually suggested what to buy or fetch. So "Shuko" would have been in the list had she knew about it. But don't forget the most important part of this: "Shuko" had been shunned from distribution. There was not a single copy out there. David Lister said that Honda was profoundly ashamed of it. And I'm biting my tongue to tell you why, but this is someone else's deduction had and I hope he will be interested in writing it here because it's a fascinating story.

bugfolder wrote: It seems that Origami Shuko remains the earliest known usage of dashes for valleys, dash-dot-dot for mountains, correct?


I don't have an answer for that but maybe Joan Sallas knows?

bugfolder wrote: The question is, did AY influence IH to use that notation in Shuko, and then IH went back to his own notation after they had their falling out?


That's an interesting observation. It does seem that Yoshizawa was responsible for the notation; moreover, in the copy he sent to Legman, he marked the notation with a red circle, meaning that this was his contribution. So your deduction seems plausible that Honda later kept "his P" out of pride. ;)

Last but not least: Many books and posts hold that Yoshizawa created the symbols. That's wrong and every effort to correct the misleading information should be encouraged. Other authors are more careful, for instance, Robert Lang in his Oricami Design Secrets (pg. 13) says: "The modern system of origami diagrams was first devised by the great Japanese master Akira Yoshizawa". That is correct, because he did "devise" a system (although he did not create the symbols). Even the arrows to show "action" were symbols that had been in use (proof of it are the sheets published by Editorial Della Penna in 1951-1952 and widely distributed within the Argentine school system). In short, Yoshizawa-Harbin-Randlett created a nice "package" but not the basic elements, and because it was so nice and friendly it became widely used.

Oh, and one more thing ;) I find it fascinating that Ligia Montoya was showing the "crimp convention" clearly using mountain and valley symbols in the above diagram of a seal, as early as July 1952. That's quite remarkable, isn't it? Did she invent that? Who else was doing crimping and how did they diagram crimps to show others? (Note: In that diagram, Ligia mentions Papirozoo by Giordano Lareo in order to save representing the first steps of the folding. However, Lareo never uses the dash-dash and dash-dot-dash convention)
Laura Rozenberg


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