A Thousand Paper Cranes

Origami


“One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.” ― Johann Wolfgang von GoetheWilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship

I always find myself dwelling in the past. Always. May be because the past is safe- it’s already set in stone never to be changed- there’s no unpredictability attached to it. I miss the city I left behind. Day in and day out. It’s never out of my thoughts. And in such a mood, I picked up a novel called ‘The Nine-Chambered Heart’ and journeyed with the central character to the city with the river, the city without a river, the town in the east of the country, the mountain and the sea beach. It’s in this book that I learnt the belief about ‘A thousand paper cranes’ in Origami.


Origami is the Japanese art of paper folding. It is a traditional art form about 1000 years old. It is a creative folk art that has spread worldwide for its simplicity. It needs no cutting, gluing or coloring. It begins and ends with plane piece of paper. It is said to have a calming and relaxing effect on the practitioners. It needs patience and perseverance to be good in Origami, though no other skill is required. And it is believed that one who folds a thousand paper cranes would have his most desired wish granted by the gods for certain.


Stories have it that the person is granted happiness and eternal good luck, even recovery from illness. Paper cranes, thus, make popular charms, gifts and offerings to the temples too. They are put in memorial services, weddings, birth ceremonies and other rituals. Cranes are believed to be mystical creatures, just like tortoises and dragons. More than anything else, origami and especially paper cranes are a part of the Japanese culture, their belief system, hope and faith.


Akira Yoshizawa, a popular origamist is credited to have reinvented the modern Origami as it is known today.


1000 Paper Cranes is a message of peace. It has taken the form of a campaign many a times. 1000 Paper Cranes for Wildlife Conservation. It is a symbol of solidarity. 1000 Paper Cranes for Tsunami Victims. Cranes For Cancer has been shipping one thousand paper cranes for cancer patients for around 18 years, to bring them hope and uplift their spirits.


“I will write peace on your wings, and you will fly all over the world.”- Sadako Sasaki


Sadako Sasaki was only 2 years old when Hiroshima was exploded with the world’s first atom bomb. She survived the world war seemingly unscathed but developed radiation induced leukemia which was detected ten years later. She was given a year to live, when, she heard of the ancient Japanese legend, and decided to make a senbazuru- one thousand paper cranes in the hospital bed. All she wished for was to live. She succumbed to the disease at a young age of 12, on October 25th, 1955, having made about 645 cranes.


Sadako’s school friends completed her senbazuru after her death, and she was buried with a thousand paper cranes. Today in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, a bronze figure of Sadako, holding a majestic golden crane, stands as the Children’s Peace Monument. The bottom slab of the monument is inscribed “This is our cry. This our prayer. Building peace in the world.”  And 6th August every year is remembered as Sadako Peace Day, to remember the horrors of the war and spread the message of peace.


Sadako’s story is illustrated in the children’s book “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes” by Eleanor Coerr.


PS: Today's story in #AToZChallenge was about "A Thousand Paper Cranes". The art of Origami. Tomorrow's story would be about building art communities. Would bring you posts themed around art, this entire month.



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