Paper Crane (Peace Crane)
The Red-Crowned Crane (Grus japonensis) is one of the largest birds of its species. It is predominantly white with black feathers along the back edge of the wing. When the bird is not flying, it looks like it has a black rump, but it is the secondary wing feathers that are black not the tail feathers. The male cranes have black feathers along its neck and cheeks. Most distinguishing is a patch of red skin on the top of its head, thus the name red-crowned crane. A typical crane can live up to 30 or 40 years, though some have lived in captivity to 70 years of age.
In Asia, cranes are associated with longevity, wisdom, and marital bliss.
The Japanese believe that cranes live to 1000 years old, as such, the bird is a symbol of longevity.
In China, it is believed that wisemen and immortals ride on the backs of cranes: they travel to and from the heavens where they attain knowledge and enlightenment. Thus cranes are associated with wisdom.
It is believed that cranes mate for life and both male & female work together to build the nest and raise the young. Thus cranes are used to symbolize a good marriage.
Long life, wisdom, good marriage: this comes together as good luck, good fortune, and/or auspiciousness.
In Japan, there is a belief that if you folded 1000 origami cranes, then your wish will come true. The 1000 paper cranes (called senbazuru) are often strung together and hung on display. This belief was made famous in the USA by the book
"Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes" by Eleanor Coerr & Ronald Himler. Although the book contained some inaccuracies, it brought recognition to Sadako Sasaki's story. Since then, the paper crane has also become a symbol for peace.
The origami paper or peace crane and the things it symbolizes continues to this day. You can find instructions to fold the classic crane, and there are all sorts of variations too. The most famous variation is the flapping bird. It is a little easier to make and it has the added feature of being able to flap its wings.
Fold a crane today!