Tuesday, March 30, 2010

And now for something completely different.

I've been thinking lately that I might make a thousand origami cranes (or try to, anyway).

Japanese folklore says that someone who folds a thousand cranes may be granted a wish -- typically the healing of sickness. I can't tell you my wish, since in American folklore, revealing a wish to others generally means it won't come true! Today the bundles of cranes, called senbazuru, are often made as wedding presents, new baby gifts, good luck charms for a family's home, or get-well wishes for someone suffering from illness or injury. An incredible customer of ours who's undertaken the project herself said the other day that folding the cranes is a "physical prayer or meditation."

In Naomi Hirahara's 1001 Cranes, Angela is sent to live with her grandparents while her parents begin the process of separation. Angela's grandmother puts her to work folding cranes for wedding gifts in her grandparents' flower shop. At first, Angela is not only terribly clumsy at the origami but also resentful of her parents' inevitable divorce, her summer away from home, and the expectation that she work in the shop. However, as the summer progresses, she slowly begins to think of the folding as a meditation and an opportunity to deepen relationships with her extended family.

I first learned of the legend in elementary school, when I read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Elizabeth Coerr. Sadako Sasaki was two years old in 1945 when the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, about a mile from her home. At age twelve, Sadako was hospitalized with leukemia. She and her loved ones began to fold cranes in hopes that her health would improve. According to some sources, all thousand cranes were finished by Sadako's death in October 1955; Coerr states that Sadako completed only 644, with the rest of the thousand finished after her death by family and friends and buried with her. Either way, after her death, Sadako became an international symbol for the horrors of atomic warfare and the senbazuru inextricably connected to wishes for world peace. Now about 20,000 cranes are sent to Hiroshima each year in remembrance of Sadako and to join the cry for world peace.

Our origami section just expanded quite a bit in the last week, but since I'm feeling a little somber I'll just show you the papers (by Aitoh) I'm getting to start my folding:

Aren't they pretty? If I don't make any mistakes with these, I'll only have 932 to go... Wish me luck!

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