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Cranes Marriage Fidelity Longevity Luck Peace Heal
The crane has symbological significance in cultures across the Earth. The crane in Japan is a mystical or holy creature (others include the dragon and the tortoise) and is said to live for a thousand years. The crane’s fidelity and mating rituals make it a common symbol for loyalty and successful marriage. Its fabled long life span also makes it a symbol of longevity. Chains of paper cranes, often numbering a thousand in total, are given as offerings at temples and shrines. The crane is also perceived as a bird capable of flying to the very heavens, and is said to have borne spirits of the deceased there upon its back. In ancient China, the crane was used as the symbol of highest-ranking officials. The longevity of the crane may also have caused it to be associated with a family tree or lineage. Our word pedigree may come from the French word for “foot of the crane,” or pied de grue. Legend has it that the crane’s legs grow before its wings do, suggesting that the bird has a strong tie to the ground. The crane is also associated with vigilance; it was said to keep watch on one leg while holding a stone in the other foot. The stone would drop if the crane dozed off, waking it and its companions. Heraldry (the art of designing and displaying coats of arms and other devices that identify a family or group) often shows the crane holding a stone in this way, symbolizing alertness. In one of Aesop’s fables, a peacock laughs at the duller crane. The crane admits that it may not be as visually stunning as the peacock, but it has the capability to soar to the very heavens, whereas the peacock is stuck on the ground. The moral of the story is the commonly repeated adage, “Fine feathers do not make a fine bird.” In Celtic myth, the crane bag, made from the skin of a crane, held many of the treasures precious to the Irish god Mannanan. One of these treasures may have been the staves of ogham, a rune-like system of writing or divination whose shapes are sometimes compared to the sticklike shape of a crane’s legs. Omens and divinatory meaning: If you see a crane flying, it may be drawing your eyes to the heavens, lifting your spirits, and inspiring you to trust in the universe. If you see it standing, it may be advising vigilance and alertness. Folding paper cranes for good fortune, healing, happiness, and success was popularized by Sadako Sasaki, a young victim of the radiation from the Hiroshima disaster. Thousand origami cranes (千羽鶴 Senbazuru?) is a group of one thousand origami paper cranes (鶴 tsuru) held together by strings. An ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane. Some stories believe you are granted eternal good luck, instead of just one wish, such as long life or recovery from illness or injury. This makes them popular gifts for special friends and family. The crane in Japan is one of the mystical or holy creatures (others include the dragon and the tortoise) and is said to live for a thousand years: that is why 1000 cranes are made, one for each year. In some stories it is believed that the 1000 cranes must be completed within one year and they must all be made by the person who is to make the wish at the end. Cranes that are made by that person and given away to another aren't included: All cranes must be kept by the person wishing at the end. A thousand paper cranes are traditionally given as a wedding gift by the father, who is wishing a thousand years of happiness and prosperity upon the couple. They can also be given to a new baby for long life and good luck. Hanging them in one's home is thought to be a powerfully lucky and benevolent charm. Several temples, including some in Tokyo and Hiroshima, have eternal flames for world peace. At these temples, school groups or individuals often donate senbazuru to add to the prayer for peace. The cranes are left exposed to the elements, slowly dissolving and becoming tattered as the wish is released. In this way they are related to the prayer flags of India and Tibet. In Western countries, the custom has been extended from giving a senbazuru to cancer patients to using them at funerals or on the grave.