Sunday, December 5, 2010

Red-Crowned Crane - The Fairy Crane

This is the Red-Crowned Crane which is a rare bird that makes its home nearby in the Yancheng area.  I took the photo in the Yancheng area not knowing that the bird is on the protected species list as the second rarest crane in the world.  I took the photo because the Red-Crowned Crane is featured in the mythology of China in a significant manner.  In Chinese, the bird is called Xian He (仙鹤), or fairy crane.

In trying to do a search for the myths that surround this large bird, I kept coming up short with only a few lines that were repeated and repeated endlessly about how this bird was "a symbol of longevity and immortality" and of "nobility." The myths themselves eluded my search.  Perhaps they are yet to be translated into English and so I am left with all the images that are abundant here in China, images that feature the crane.   
"While the world as it is is infinitely more complex than we can imagine, we are provided with the helpful tools of metaphor and symbol to move from the knowable world to the unknowable.  If the poet compares the beloved to a flower, or analogizes the human life cycle with the seasons, we know full well what is intended.  From this capacity for metaphor, symbol, analogy, we have the possibility through imagination of creating a partnership with mystery."  (Hollis, Mythologems, p. 31)
I am learning something here.  I wonder about how there are things that are knowable - known - to some, such as the myths surrounding this crane, and those things that are a mystery to all.  We sense/intuit something numinous but we can't move from the fuzzy edges of contact into conscious awareness.  What comes after death is the best analogy that I can think of - do we become immortal?  The crane suggests that we do, a noble immortality that demands a transcendence from a corporal form.  There is not "truths" to be had here, just the fuzzy edges of mystery.

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