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.