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St. George and the Dragon

A Graduation • A Celebration • A Legend 
– by John Sutton

May of 2014 marks forty years since my graduation from St. George’s School, Newport, Rhode Island. When I decided to attend our reunion and meet again many of my classmates, most for the first time in four decades, I wondered what I could contribute to the celebration. Why, an origami dragon, the mascot and legend embedded in the school’s narrative history, of course!

With typical enthusiasm, creativity, and skill, Leyla jumped on the idea and we began a months-long journey to fold and film the wonderful vignette, an origami performance, of St. George and the Dragon.*

The traditional legend of St. George and the Dragon is originally sourced from a collection of medieval tales of the Saints, The Golden Legend, compiled in 1260 by Jacobus de Voragine.

In the the town of Silene, in Libya, there was a pond in which lived a dragon. Every day the townspeople fed the dragon two sheep to appease its wrath. When there were not enough sheep the townspeople fed the dragon a sheep and a man. Then, with the approval of the king, a law was passed that mandated children and young people draw lots. On whomever the lot fell, irrespective of age or class, rich or poor, these souls would be sacrificed to the dragon to save the town.

Many lots were cast and many were lucky. Some, like the king’s daughter, were not. On the day the king’s daughter was to be sacrificed, St. George happened to ride by the pond. On seeing her standing there on its bank, he asked why she wept. When told the reason, St. George drew his sword and charged the dragon, wounding it grievously with his spear. He then directed the princess to take her girdle, wrap it around the dragon’s neck, and lead it into the town. And there it was that St. George slew the dragon and cut off its head.

Origami, like music, is versatile in its breadth of expressive possibility. We can be interpreter and composer, audience or performer. The beauty and magic of origami are not only evident in the wide range of models -from simple to complex, but in its easy accessibility. Origami can be practiced by anyone at any time with nothing more than a piece of paper.

The community of Origami practitioners includes all cultures, all ages, and interests as diverse as pure poetry in folding, to education and practical application.  We’d like to invite those with experience -and especially those without, to visit the videos page on this website and see what models might spark your interest. There is something for everyone!

We’ve had a lot of fun developing this origami performance of St. George and the Dragon and take great pleasure in sharing it with the St.George’s Class of 1974. We hope you enjoy it too. Please share this post and video with family and friends, and do come back and visit us again.

Any questions, comments, or suggestions? You can reach us through the contact page or leave a comment below.

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* Grateful acknowledgement  to the following origami artists for allowing us to feature their designs for this origami performance.

  • David Brill  is the creator of the shield, the spear, the knight and the dragon. Diagrams found in his book Brilliant Origami.Diagrams for the dragon are also found on his webpage.
  • John Montroll is the creator of the horse. Diagrams found in his book Horses in Origami.

origami-St-george-dragon. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

{ 29 comments… add one }
  • Jay March 19, 2016, 11:02 pm

    You forgot to tell the best part! “…S. George was upon his horse, and drew out his sword and garnished him with the sign of the cross, and rode hardily against the dragon which came towards him, and smote him with his spear and hurt him sore and threw him to the ground. And after said to the maid: Deliver to me your girdle, and bind it about the neck of the dragon and be not afeard. When she had done so the dragon followed her as it had been a meek beast and debonair. Then she led him into the city, and the people fled by mountains and valleys, and said: Alas! alas! we shall be all dead. Then S. George said to them: Ne doubt ye no thing, without more, believe ye in God, Jesu Christ, and do ye to be baptized and I shall slay the dragon. Then the king was baptized and all his people, and S. George slew the dragon and smote off his head, and commanded that he should be thrown in the fields, and they took four carts with oxen that drew him out of the city.

    Then were there well fifteen thousand men baptized, without women and children, and the king did do make a church there of our Lady and of S. George, in the which yet sourdeth a fountain of living water, which healeth sick people that drink thereof. After this the king offered to S. George as much money as there might be numbered, but he refused all and commanded that it should be given to poor people for God’s sake; and enjoined the king four things, that is, that he should have charge of the churches, and that he should honour the priests and hear their service diligently, and that he should have pity on the poor people, and after, kissed the king and departed.”

  • Antonio May 7, 2015, 9:17 am

    Leyla, tu grandeza nos la has demostrado contestando a todas las personas que te preguntamos consumiendo tu tiempo !!. Somos internos y nos dicen que Origami “tranquiliza”. La verdad es que con tu trabajo también alegras nuestro atardecer.
    Por favor, dices que usas tres capas en el papel, en castellano a: papel de arroz coloreado a mano, b: capa de aluminio y c: papel de seda. Te pregunto:
    ¿En el caballero, por ejemplo, el color azul es el papel de arroz (coloreado de azul) ó es el papel de seda (de color azul)?
    ¿En el dragón, son capas de papel de arroz coloreados de verde y rojo ó son capas de papel de seda colores verde y rojo?.
    Mil gracias.

  • Antonio May 1, 2015, 11:59 am

    Hola Leila desde Madrid. He pasado un rato maravilloso con un video tuyo de la rosa. Claro, conciso y concreto. Mi profundo agradecimiento.
    Algún día me gustaría verte construir el famoso colibrí de La Fosse y la orquídea tambien de La Fosse. El colibrí de Joost Langeveld tiene un dvd bueno, pero no es tan impactante como el de Lafosse.
    Te pregunto: ¿Todas las figuras de “St. George and the Dragon” vienen en los dos libros que citas de Brill y Montroll? ¿Existe algún video a velocidad normal?.
    Mil gracias nuevamente.
    Antonio

    • Leyla Torres May 5, 2015, 1:04 pm

      Hola Antonio,

      Sí, las figuras de San Jorge y del Dragón vienen de unn libro de David Brill. El caballo es de john Montrol. Por el momento no tengo un video que muestre el paso a paso de estas figuras.

  • Jessica May 16, 2014, 10:15 pm

    I expected a stop-motion vignette with the characters — what a treat to watch them come alive! I recently shared your site with my seven-year-old, who is happily working his way through your animal videos. I can’t wait to show him this tomorrow.

    I wondered if you could comment on your extraordinary papers. Do you make your own? What fibers are they made of?

    Thank you!

    • Leyla Torres May 17, 2014, 2:14 pm

      Thank you Jessica, I’, happy to hear that you and your son are enjoying the videos.
      These pieces are made with laminated paper, three layers: hand-colored rice paper, aluminum foil in the middle and tissue paper.

  • Karen Buse May 14, 2014, 6:05 pm

    Leyla, that was so much fun! I loved watching your fingers fly through those models. Beautiful paper too. Thank you so much!

    • Leyla Torres May 14, 2014, 8:33 pm

      You are welcome Karen, I’m glad you like it. The papers used were hand-colored rice and tissue paper with a layer of foil paper in between.

  • Marsha Pitman May 14, 2014, 12:09 pm

    What an amazing demonstration! Thank You for this and all of your instructional videos! They have greatly enriched my life in ways I can’t begin to give words to! God bless you!

    • Leyla Torres May 14, 2014, 12:25 pm

      You are welcome Marsha, I’m happy the videos have been of service to you. Please share them and spread the word so that we can continue to make them far into the future.

  • Nick Robinson May 14, 2014, 11:58 am

    A lovely video, but I got stuck around 6 minutes in, please help me!

    • Leyla Torres May 14, 2014, 12:20 pm

      This is very strange Nick. What browser are you using?

      • Leyla Torres May 14, 2014, 1:49 pm

        Oh I got it Nick… perhaps you need to apply a special ‘speeding ointment’ to your fingers so that they can catch up to the video. I think that BOS carries some good brands ;-)

  • Dave Brill May 14, 2014, 11:41 am

    What BRILLIANT ORIGAMI, Leyla! Many thanks to you and John for your excellent work.

  • Maricarmen Guerra May 14, 2014, 10:33 am

    Dear Leyla:

    I´m learning about origami. I like it a lot. I work at IMAO School in Guadalajara, Jalisco, México. I´m the second principal. I was organizing a workshop to celebrate children´s day. When I met your website I got surprised because of your easy way to teach origami. I wanted to watch your face becouse your hands are teacher´s hand and you have the patience to teach others. That´s why I registered myself to learn more of you. Congratulations. I think origami is art and is more than it, because your spirit flies through the piece of paper and it can be catched for other soul. My origami workshop at the school was a success.
    I will try to start with the dragon´s shield, at least.
    Sincerely
    Maricarmen Guerra Arias

    • Leyla Torres May 14, 2014, 10:48 am

      Hi Maricarmem,
      I’m glad you are enjoying the instructional videos published in Origami Spirit. Unlike most of my videos, this video of St. George is not meant to be instructional. So don’t worry if you cannot fold these models. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the performance.

      On another note, I believe that it’s very important that educators like yourself are embracing origami, not only as an art in itself, but as a tool to use in their classroom. Origami is relevant to mathematics, social studies, language, and fine art.

      Do you know that there will be an origami convention in Mexico city next November 2014? I will be there! Perhaps we can meet personally. Best wishes.

  • Dr. Ryda D. Rose, Professor Emerita/EDUCATION ... U. of PA. May 14, 2014, 10:30 am

    Leyla, What a wonderful video!! Brings together literature, fantasy, art, mathematics, science, technology-and illustrates that our love of and practice of ORIGAMI can do this always in so many ways! A magnificent endeavor!! Thanks. Will share.

    • Leyla Torres May 14, 2014, 10:33 am

      Thank you Dr. Rose, I’m so happy you enjoyed the video. We do have fun with this wonderful art, don’t we?

  • Maureen Miller-Calamo May 14, 2014, 8:37 am

    A wonderful demonstration of paper coming alive!

  • Scott Cramer May 14, 2014, 8:17 am

    This is absolutely wonderful, a delight for the eyes and ears! Your video captures the magical transformation that makes origami so fascinating. Thank you for your seemingly tireless efforts in promoting our art.

    • Leyla Torres May 14, 2014, 8:33 am

      Hi Scott,
      It was great fun for John and I to prepare this video. Finished origami models can be spectacular, but they don’t tell the whole story of how they come to be made. There is so much joy and magic in the process. That’s why I decided to condense the two-hour-long process of folding these figures into a twelve minute video performance. We are satisfied with the result and hope people will enjoy it. Please share it! Thank you for writing.

  • carolina May 14, 2014, 7:42 am

    Hola Leyla, hace unas semanas que estoy suscrita a tu blog. ¡qué maravillas podemos crear con papel y nuestras manos!. Tus montajes son preciosos, con un cariño y dedicación a quienes te leemos y observamos. Y bueno, este video que San Jorge y El Dragón me parece fantástico!!. Muchas felicitaciones!!
    Soy pedagoga teatral y narradora. Y, descubrí tu blog cuando buscaba una hermosa mariposa para mi “versión en origami” del cuento Pulgarcita de Hans Cristhian Andersen. El la última sesión narrativa ( hice 6 en total) regalé a los niños asistentes las mariposas, pajaritas, ranas, sapos, abeja y flores que había hecho. La próxima vez que lo haga, porque me han pedido repetir, intentaré enviarte un video. Nada como tus ediciones. Pero creo que te alegrará mucho. Un abrazo cariño y de enorme admiración.

    • Leyla Torres May 14, 2014, 8:40 am

      Gracias Carolina. Me alegra que te haya gustado. Como le dije a Scott en otro comentario, las figuras en origami pueden ser espectaculares, pero para quien no tiene familiaridad con el proceso, la figura en sí no le cuenta toda la historia. Fue un trabajazo hacer el video, pero realmente con mucho cariño y alegría.
      Me encantará ver el video que tu realices. Es una maravilla que haya este puente entre las artes escénicas y el origami.
      Veo que me escribes tu comentario a mi página en inglés. ¿Sabías que Origami Spirit está en español?
      Abrazos!

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