Cranes in Chinese mythology

In China, the crane is legendary for being the prince of all feathered creature on earth. Being the symbol of longetivity and peace, the crane is the most favored bird symbol (next to the phoenix).

This bird was represented on civil officials’ robes, it was used to depict rank throughout the different dynasties. Since the crane has long beak, long legs and long neck, the bird is also called as “three long”.

It has one meter high while standing straight. The wings of the crane was used as an amulet against exhaustion and tiredness, because people admired it for untiring strength in flight.

In the development of Wing Chun it is said that Ng Mui fled to the distant Daliang mountains on the border between Yunnan and Sichuan.

One day, she came upon a fight between a snake and a crane. She took the lessons she learned from observing the fight between the two animals and combined them with her own knowledge of Shaolin kung fu to create a new style. Wing Chun Kung Fu.

Cranes are an important motif in Chinese mythology. There are various myths involving cranes, and in Chinese mythology cranes are generally symbolically connected with the idea of immortality.

The motifs of cranes may vary in a range from reference to real cranes (such as the red-crowned crane) to referring to transformed Taoist immortals (xian), who sometimes were said to have magical abilities to transform into cranes in order to fly on various journeys.

Meaning and Symbolism

In Chinese paintings, these birds are often painted with other important symbols such as peaches and pine trees. The image of a crane with its wings stretched out and one leg raised up has the symbol of longevity. When it is combined with the pine and a spotted dear is known as the ‘prolonged life’.

Cranes with peony flowers symbolise prosperity and longevity, while cranes with lotus symbolise purity and longevity.

A crane flying towards the sun expresses the desire for social advancement. A picture of a crane perched on rock and looking at the sun symbolises an important authority who can see everything.

Dreams

Crane flies in the skies above the dusty world, therefore the bird is also considered as a symbol of cleanliness and purity. It is said that the death of a Taoist priest is “turning into a feathered crane”. The crane carries the spirit of the departed to the heaven according to Chinese legends.

It is said that if you dream a crane it indicates immortality or longevity. A dream of a flying crane is also a good omen, portending that the dreamer is going to become a high official. The ancients considered “a crane standing among chickens” this phrase means that the crane has unusual abiIity and is not of the common world.

Birds in general, bring good luck if you place them in the South facing side of your room. Do note that, the keeping of caged birds is bad Feng Shui because that will represent confinement and the stunting of growth.

The fairy cranes in Chinese myths and legends are actually red-crowned cranes. These omnivorous birds are often reputed as the ‘Deity of Wetlands’. Actually the pine trees which grow on high hills and mountains have nothing to do with the cranes but people still like to put these two together while drawing in order to express the wish of longevity.