Chinese Modular Origami

I was first introduced to Chinese modular origami when i was in elementry school by my aunt. A friend of hers taught her how to make a pinapple (ball), we made one with 500 pieces of chinese 1 cent bills, because of the color of the bill, dark yellow/brown, it actully looked convincing. She also told me that her friend had huge models of ships made out of same triangle pieces, I didnt really believe her.

Summer of 1997, I visited a small Chinese musum in chinatown that had these models on display. The models were amazing, range from full size american bald eagle, full size bikes, tea sets, to miniture ship models (about 5feet long). The models were made by bunch of chinese stowaways that got locked up. They represented their american dreams, sometimes these origami are also refer to as Chinese Refugees Modular Units. I wasnt allowed to take any pictures, but if you have a chance, you should definitly go see it, it's jaw dropping amazing.

Winter 2001, I found a bunch of websites by other chinese origami model fans. They had some amazing models that I had never seen, some where designed by themselves. One of them pointed me to a Japanese book store in NYC (Kinokuniya Bookstores) that had lots of books on these models. Appearantly these models are alot more popular than i thought, Japanese call them block folding origami.

Most of the books I have found are in Japanese, so far I have only found few in english, such as 3D origami by Boutique-Sha Staff


I can't provide translation for the instructions as I don't speak most of those languages myself. If you have some specific models in mind, I might be able to help you find a diagram, but you should try look for the books yourself if you can. Check out the list of books below.

I have not made any new models for a while, and not much new to put on the webpage either.

~ luisa [last update 9/7/2005]

My Models: some with instructions - more images and notes

box [17KB]
page1 [40KB]
page2 [51KB]
page3 [39KB]
page4 [39KB]
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page2 [72KB]

Scan Models & Instructions:

basic [67KB]

preview [72KB]
diagram [75KB]

preview [82KB]
page1 [258KB]
page2 [271KB]
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page2 [87KB]

Books from Kinokuniya in NYC: UPDATE some available for purchase online!


Books from NOTE all available for purchase online!


Kinokuniya Bookstore - Rockefeller Plaza, 10 West 49St, NYC, (212) 765-7766
Museum of Chinese in the Americas (MoCA) - 70 Mulberry Street, 2nd Floor, NYC, (212) 619-4785 - many custom models based on anime and video game characters - general info about chinese modular origami and pic - instruction for unit, many great model pic - instruction for unit on origami interest group - lots of pic of giant swan models and other type of modular origami - origami supplies, check out the kit packs - joseph wu's orgami site, not chinese modular but still jaw droppingly amazing - general origami site