The flight of the crane – Vision Magazine

Watercolour illustration of a crane in flight
This illustration was for ‘Vision’ a Chinese publication the Oct.issue of 2011 is a special 10th anniversary issue. The theme is “hello, future.” I was one of 12 illustrators commissioned to illustrate something to do with the environment. Rather than the usual doom and gloom angle I decided to take a look at our environmental problem from another perspective and use a bit of symbolism. The crane may conceivably be the oldest bird on earth; there is fossil proof that they existed over 60 million years ago. I think that is a good starting point. The crane has been around a long time. We as human beings haven’t, and in our short time here on planet earth we have managed to make enormous leaps of imagination in understanding our environment. We are facing one of the most deadliest problems. If we fail to successfully curb our polluting habits we face extinction from climate change. Humanity has no choice but to tackle this problem head on.

The crane, historically across all cultures is considered a symbol of wisdom. In China, ‘heavenly cranes’ tian-he or ‘blessed cranes’ xian-he, were symbols of wisdom, which carried legendary sages on their backs transporting them between heavenly worlds.

In Japan the crane was known as ‘the bird of happiness’ and was often referred to as ‘Honorable Lord Crane’. An ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane.

In Europe Cranes were associated with vigilance and loyalty. Early Christian writers associated the bird’s reputation for vigilance, loyalty and goodness with the virtues of life in the monastery.

In Africa the crane is associated with language and thought.

In greek mythology the crane is considered to be a bird of Apollo the sun god. It is seen as a herald of Spring and light. Apollo is said to have disguised himself as a crane when on visits to the mortal world.

The crane is a symbol that we need to be wise to save our future.

More at Daniel Mackie’s Illustration Portfolio

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