The word "paper" derives from papyrus, the name of the ancient material manufactured from beaten reeds in Egypt as far back as the third millennium B.C. Indeed, the earliest known example of "paper folding" is an ancient Egyptian map, drawn on papyrus and folded into rectangular forms like a modern road map.
However, it does not appear that intricate paper folding as an art form became possible until the introduction of wood-pulp based papers.
The first Japanese origami is dated from the 6th century A.D.
In much of the West, the term origami is used synonymously with paper folding, though the term properly only refers to the art of paper folding in Japan. Other forms of paper folding include Zhezhi (Chinese paper folding), Jong-i.e.-jeop-gi, from Korea, and Western paper folding, such as the traditional paper boats and paper planes.