Red Crowned Cranes

Red-crowned cranes. Grus japonensis

The Red-crowned crane is one of the rarest, largest and long-lived of the world’s cranes. It is a very handsome bird with its black and white plumage and red skull cap. In the past, their plumage was highly regarded and used as fashion accessories. As a consequence, in Japan, they were hunted to the point of extinction supplying the demand for the feathers for the fashion industry. They are now protected across its range including China, Japan, and Korea

In far eastern cultures the Red-crowned crane is a symbol of longevity, purity, and peace and a popular subject in art. The Japanese airlines JAL uses the red-crowned crane as its logo on the tail of its planes.  Captive cranes have been known to live for up to 70 years.

The crane is famous for the courtship dance performed during the mating season where pairs of cranes engage in elaborate, synchronised courtship duets. It was this idea of their courtship dance and its compositional possibilities that attracted me to attempt a painting of these birds. I was also struck by the resemblance between the visual rhythm created as they dance with that of musical notes on a stave.

Ink, masking fluid and tipex pen on mountboard. (2014)

Leave a Reply