Continued from Demoiselle Crane - The Smallest of all Cranes
The beauty of the cranes
and their spectacular dances have fascinated humans since ancient times.
Legends about the crane exist in many areas of the world, and the history
of the crane is equally as fascinating.
From ancient cave art found in Spanish caves as
well as in Sweden, and as a result of archaeological finds of Cranes in
recently dug settlements, it is now known that Cranes were hunted in pre-historic
times. In the Middle-Ages Cranes were considered a delicacy, particularly
among noblemen and Royalty.
In the old empire of China
the Crane was the symbol for a long life and wisdom. It was believed that
taoist priests transformed after their death into a Crane or that the souls
of the deceased were carried on the back of a crane to the sky.
One particularly interesting
Chinese legend involves the Yellow Crane Tower, known as Huanghelou in
Chinese. This is located on Snake Hill, near the southern end of
the Yangtze River Bridge in Wuhan. It was first built in 223 AD,
and can still be visited in its now rebuilt form today (the tower having
been rebuilt over a period of 4 years 1981 to 1985). The story
goes that Xin, the owner of a Wine shop, gave an old man or Taoist monk
free wine. As a mark of his gratitude the old man drew a picture
of a stork on the wall of the shop. Whenever the stork heard clapping
it would dance. Many people came to see the spectacle and the shop was
always full of customers which made Xin a very wealthy man. Ten years
later the Monk or old man returned to the shop, mounted the crane and rode
off into the sky.above. As a way of commemorating the old man's magic,
the now-wealthy Xin built the Yellow Crane Tower in the old man's memory.
In Greece the Crane was considered
as symbol of watchfulness and intelligence. In ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics
the figure of the Crane represents the letter B. The Aztecs of Mexico originally
came from the region Aztlan, which meant "land of the crane" or "near the
Crane" (azta = crane, tlan = near).
Cranes can be powerful and
fierce birds if they need to be. In the Middle-Ages in France,
the Count de Tancarville is reported to have witnessed a fight between
two hawks and a crane which had previously proved itself strong enough
to keep 2 greyhounds at bay.
The cranberry is so-called because of the fact
that so many grow in marshes inhabited by Cranes who enjoy eating them.
The word comes from the 17th Century Low-Greman word "kranbeere".
In Japan the Crane is a symbol of longevity.
In an old Japanese legend, anyone who folds a thousand Origami Cranes will
be allowed a wish to be fulfilled by the gods. Since the death of Sadako
Sasaki, who used origami cranes in her personal battle against her leukemia
which was caused by high radiation in towns and villages following the
Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings, the origami paper crane is a symbol
of the peace movement and the resistance against nuclear weapons.