The screened room divider appears to have first come into existence in Asia, originating in China. Some screens dating back to the eighth century are still in existence, but most historians agree that the screens were likely being used hundreds of years earlier. References in literature and in ancient tombs date screens as far as back as the second century
In Japan, the design and construction of screen dividers became a fine art, with many varieties developed over the centuries, named for their specific use. Some were heavier and made of wood, while others were more ornamental and used rice paper in their construction. Delicate paintings with common Japanese motifs of landscapes or images from nature were frequently used. Some screens folded, but some were intended to be stationary.