916: Zhen Xian Bao (Traditional Chinese Thread and Needle Book)

Interestingly, paper folding developed independently in most countries that made paper. In China, traditional folding included objects like this:

This is a modern interpretation of a Zhen Xian Bao – a traditional thread case. Even cursory research on teh interwebs reveals astonishing combinations of these little compartments, nested in other compartments.

This fold was designed by Paula Versnick, and has 7 separate compartments of varying size, that all lock together into a charming little book.

Traditionally for keeping embroidery cotton and needles, presumably for the creators of silk stitched “paintings”, it is an ingenious storage solution for small fiddly bits of stuff.

Traditionally made from mulberry-based paper that is remarkably tear and pest/insect resistant, there are examples of these things that are hundreds of years old, often indigo dyed but still entirely functional.

Made in an increasing module style, I can imagine ways of engineering this to be arbitrarily larger, as each smaller unit has pockets strategically placed to accommodate tabs from the larger unit – brilliantly complicated.

Careful choice of paper can make these endlessly decorative and intricate. Wet folded, the paper retains memory of being closed so springs back to form after being opened.

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