Quazen has some great pictures of both Kusudama and modular origami, into which it evolved:
The form of Kusudama goes back to before written history. The general consensus is that they were used to hold bunches of herbs or flowers as urban culture
took hold. With urbanization the desire for objects with both utility and beauty took greater hold. Before this the plants would have been hung on their own and the kusudama evolved as an aesthetically pleasing receptacle for both potpourri and incense.
From the Upcoming ueue, submitted by .