Sunday, May 2, 2010

1,000 Cranes!

If there is one art material I love above all else it would probably have to be paper. I think it steams from the half designer in me. Paper stores, lectures on paper, paper conventions—yes there are conventions on paper, I just can't to seem to get enough of it! So it appeared to be rather fitting for my soon-to-be wedding that my fiancĂ©e and I would fold what else...paper cranes.

Tracking the exact origins of these colorful, hand-folded little birds can be a bit of a mystery. However, most seem to conclude that the start of origami began around 100 AD. This date correlates with the invention of paper, while there is no strong evidence that one leads to the other. The first documented evidence of origami occurred in 1680 in the form of a poem by Ihara Saikaku. In 1797 the first book on origami, Sembazuru Orikata was publlished by Akisato Rito, The literal translation of the book is "The folding of One-thousand Cranes."

It is an ancient Japanese legend that if you fold 1000 cranes you will be granted one wish; this tradition is known as tsuru wa sennen—the crane lives for 1000 years. In 1960 the custom was revived after the publication of Sadako and One Thousand Cranes. Sadako was a young Japanese girl that lived in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945. In hopes to survive the "atomic bomb disease"—leukemia, she attempted to fold 1000 cranes while in the hospital longing to make it to her one wish, survival.

There are two different versions of the ending of Sadako's story. One is that she only made it to 644 cranes before her death, in which her family finished the last of the 1000 cranes and buried them with her. Or the other more uplifting version as told by the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is that in fact Sadako did fold all her cranes prior to her death on October 25, 1955. Because of her inspiring story the act of folding 1000 cranes has become an international symbol for world peace.

Wanting to spread the hope that Sadako had, couples began the process of folding cranes for their weddings. This more recent tradition is seen as a symbol of the patience and trust needed to sustain a healthy marriage. A couple that can last the long—and sometimes grueling process, of folding 1000 cranes is seen to be able to withstand anything. Upon folding the last crane the couple can then make a wish.

Jon and I began the underestimated journey of folding 1000 cranes within weeks of being engaged. So one could easily assume by now our task would be complete. However, both of us being artists/designers we have the not-so-wonderful ability to procrastinate. As of this minute we have approximately half the cranes folded...and we're getting married in TWO WEEKS!

Last night we began the process again. Once I start something I'm not really good at giving up, I see a couple sleepless nights in our future. I guess if we can make it through folding 500 cranes in two-weeks we might be able to make through anything. But if you by chance have one wish in your storage bank maybe you could be so gracious to bestow upon us that we might actually be able to finish what we started!


  1. Wow, that is a lot of cranes! I am sure they will be beautiful, though. I would love to have paper cranes when I get married one day.

  2. wow--that is amazing! I am lindsey from the lovely paper blog. I found you on 20 something bloggers. great blog! i love everything about paper and it looks like you do too:)

    we are doing a giveaway that you may be interested in if you love art (like we do!)

    check it out: