Cranes and Tortoises

On this panel, the crane (tsuru) and a stylized pine branch are flanked by the characters for 1,000 years, their supposed lifespan. The tortoise (kame) is flanked by the characters for 10,000 years, the age to which tortoises were supposedly able to live. The Japanese congratulatory phrase tsuru wa sennen, kame wa mannen translates literally to “the crane a thousand years, the tortoise ten thousand,” meaning a wish for unending happiness.

Paper Cranes

Folded paper Japanese origami cranes represent wishes for happiness, health and peace. These cranes appear within hexagons, representing tortoises. Also depicted are flowering chrysanthemums, additional longevity symbols. This panel may have been dyed with a semi-mechanized resist method using stencils to replace hand-tying of the bundles of thread.

Copyright 2006 Jeffrey Krauss and Ann Marie Moeller