Books & fractals

This is a Zhen Xian Bao or Chinese thread book. In fact the internet is full of available instructions how to make it, but if you look at the antique samples of these complicated cases or folders used by Chinese dressmakers, you would get very inspired by their beauty and delicacy. So, I couldn’t resist to make one by myself.

The main material of these folders was an oriental type of paper, which, as you probably know, has such properties as high resistance, thinness and soft texture. In general it reminds more a kind of fabric then the paper. Although sometimes you can also observe some reinforcements of joint parts made of cloth. It seems that old dressmakers and tailors in China recycled paper by making these “books”. That’s why in some samples you can still find handwritten or printed texts or pictures. Once the book was made, often it was decorated by woodblock prints or painted directly by hand.

This interesting origami-type envelope structure makes the case a kind of book of almost endlessly repeated fractals. The mine has eleven envelopes and I’m sure that’s not the limit. It is a kind of book-transformer that can change it’s modest book appearance into some incredible geometric object.

Here you have a video showing the folding structure of an antique Zhen Xian Bao: