Miniature Origami Umbrella

Vintage Japanese Origami Umbrella | Cigarette Wrapper “Wagasa”

Realized Value: $65.00

Age:1970s

Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 4-0”dia. x 4-1/4”h.

This is a miniature replica of the Wagasa (Japanese traditional mulberry paper umbrella), which is a unique origami umbrella made by an internee years after he was incarcerated at the Tule Lake Relocation Center, and purchased from his estate. Even in a compact size, the creation process employed by this internee is the exact same as if it were a regular size umbrella. Origami, the Japanese art of paper folding was a popular pastime in the camps, but only used materials were available to support the creative mind. The miniature Wagasa, was made from MERIT Filtered cigarette pack wrappers with toothpicks for the rings which are tied together with simple cotton thread. It has foiled paper from the cigarette pack and two crude hand-crafted tassels on the top with an lacquered chopstick to simulate the umbrella handle/stem, and does not facilitate opening and closing like a traditional umbrella. The colors employed are based on the wrapper itself which is yellow, gray and white, with writings and graphics from the graphics of the paper. Unknown maker.

Vintage Condition: This piece is in Very Good condition, “as is”, and retains the original craft/workmanship for having been made around 50 years ago, and has retained its original colors and integrity.  The umbrella itself over time has slightly misshapened from being stored in a trunk, but does not take away from the aesthetic or historical significance of the piece. It is an exceptional collectors item because there are so many steps in creating Wagasa that it’s very difficult to encourage young people to engage in any stage of miniature umbrella production as this generation learned to keep mentally stimulated while in the camps.

NOTE: The term Tsukumogami, is used to represent the Japanese spirit which is said to evolve from an object of historical significance and age when it become alive. Wagasa are so popular in the Japanese culture and tradition it is said to have its own spirit or soul, having been used daily for hundreds of years.

For reading on the subject see: The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps 1942-1946 by Delphine Hirasuna, ISBN; 13: 978-1-58008-689-9