Crane Symbolism & Meaning-The Ultimate Guide

Crane Symbolism & Meaning

“Magic birds were dancing in the mystic marsh. The grass swayed with them, and the shallow waters and the earth fluttered under them. The earth was dancing with the cranes, and the low sun, and the wind and sky.”

– Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Crane Symbolism & Meaning-Overview

Cranes are tall and heavy-billed birds who have an upright posture and an elegant demeanor. They are the longest-living bird species and are monogamous i.e., they mate for life.

Cranes are protective creatures and are very protective of their family. They are loving and caring creatures who fiercely protect the young ones.

Crane symbolism is all about living in harmony and balance between elements. Cranes teach us, “If you want others to respect you, you need to respect them first.” Cranes are important creatures in many cultures and mythologies around the globe. They are also seen as the King of birds.

Cranes are elegant and graceful creatures that symbolize devotion, grace, faithfulness, open-mindedness, longevity, travel, transformation, aspiration, and immortality. Let’s find out what cranes symbolize in different cultures, mythologies, and religions around the globe

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Crane Native American Symbolism 

Native Americans see cranes as the ‘Speakers for the Clans’ and the creature is famous for its trumpeting calls. The Ziltahjini Peak in Navajo Arizona got its name from standing cranes. The Hopi tribes call cranes atoko in their language. Thus, there is a possibility that Atoko Point in the Grand Canyon National Park might be named after cranes.

Similarly, Watula creek got its name from a sandhill crane. Native Americans worshiped cranes and asked them for wisdom, longevity, and immortality. Cranes in Native America are a representation of freedom and independence. If you see a pair of cranes, they symbolize true love and good fortune.

It is also said that the ancient people drew alphabetic secrets from cranes. The Miami clan was formerly known as Tightwees, which meant ‘Cry of the Crane.’ The Ojibwe Indians of Michigan, also called the tribe of Chippewa, used crane symbolism in their flags. Their flag depicted a black crane on the back of a turtle.  

Crane also symbolizes eloquence and leadership and is considered the spokesperson for the clans. The call of a crane is considered unique and rare, thus when a crane speaks everyone listens with rapt attention. When the Native Americans saw the White people for the first time they called them ‘red crane people’ because of how uncommon red cranes were.  

Crane Eastern symbolism

Chinese believe cranes to be the spirit of one of the four masters of the Yuan Dynasty – Huang-Kung Wang. Apart from this cranes also symbolize music and dance in China and Crane dance is common in China. The reason it was associated with music is because of its perfect pitch. Cranes also symbolize immortality according to Taoism.

Cranes were also associated with monkeys. It is said that a monkey and crane together represent complementary duality. This is because cranes symbolize immortality whereas monkeys still hold ties with the mortal world.  

The Japanese consider the pair of Manchurian Crane and turtle a symbol of longevity, where the turtle stands for 10,000 years and the crane for 1,000 years. In Japan, wedding gifts were given with crane motifs to bless the couple with eternal conjugal happiness. They also perform crane dances.

The crane along with a pine tree symbolizes longevity and is often depicted together. Moreover, paper cranes are given to people for good wishes and eternal blessings. There is a beautiful story behind the culture of giving out paper cranes. After the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a girl called Sadako developed leukemia. 

To cheer her up, her friend asked her to make 1000 paper cranes for good luck and to fulfill her wish. Sadako dedicates herself to making paper cranes and makes 1000 paper cranes for good health. Since then, paper cranes have become a symbol of good fortune, granting of wishes, and longevity.

Like Chinese and Japanese, Koreans too perform crane dances. Koreans believe cranes to be a symbol of peace and eternal youth. Moreover, the demilitarized zone between South Korea and North Korea is a wildlife sanctuary for the red-crowned crane. Koreans believe that their love for cranes symbolizes the reunion of the two countries in the future.

The Indian word for cranes is Saras. It is derived from the word Sarasa meaning ‘bird of the lake’. Saras is an honorable creature that symbolizes good fortune, unconditional love, and marital faithfulness. Some Indians also say that a pair of cranes are soulmates and if one crane in the pair dies, the other soon follows after it.

According to Vietnamese mythology, cranes are holy birds sent by Gods to ferry those souls who are destined for eternal life. Cranes are graceful creatures who court their mates by dancing and spreading their wings in the air. Due to this reason, Cranes are a symbol of conjugal love and ardent courtship.

Crane Celtic symbolism

According to the Celts, Cranes are considered messengers of Gods. Cranes could very well have been a symbol of the military in Celtic culture. They were drawn on weapons, shields, urns, coins, and helmets during 1200-1000 BC. Crane motifs are drawn on Celtic shields from the early first-century AD arch found in Orange. 

According to the Celts, cranes belonged to the mortal world and the other world. They were present in both worlds. This is why they were portrayed as messengers. According to Celts, cranes were magical creatures because they could stay on land, air, and water.

Celts believe that a group of three cranes symbolize feminine force. They also thought that cranes used to be humans in the past due to their upright posture. Celtic mythology usually portrayed cranes as miserable creatures.

Irish mythology, however, has significant crane symbolism. In one of the stories, Aife, an evil sorceress stepmother, got cursed to become a crane and stand on one leg and reach out with one hand. Eating crane meat was also prohibited because cranes were considered a sign of ancestral divinity.

Apart from this, the Irish also believe that seeing three cranes together is a bad omen as they symbolize the three war goddesses, Badb, Macha, and Morrigan.

Crane symbolism In Various Religions

In Hinduism, the crane is seen as a holy bird. They symbolize devotion, marital harmony, and commitment. Some Hindu texts even forbid people from consuming crane meat.

In Christianity, a crane symbolizes loyalty, vigilance, and good life, order, and work. These qualities are a representation of a crane’s traits and habits. Some cranes keep vigilance every night, thus to keep themselves from dozing off they place a stone in their beaks. As soon as the stone falls, they will wake up.

Apart from this, some cranes also stand on one leg while keeping vigilance. So, if they fall asleep, their raised leg would fall, and they will wake up. Cranes fly in a V-shaped formation with the stronger birds flying at the ends of the formation and the young and weak fly in the center. Due to this formation, crane symbolism is linked to birth and death. 

A flying crane represents a departing soul. Cranes are also associated with starting over. The crane is a symbol of death but, instead of representing the end, they represent the start of a new beginning. It is a transition of the soul from one life to another and not the end of its journey.  

In Buddhism, Cranes are an embodiment of Bodhisattvas and symbolize reincarnation and longevity. Releasing cranes helps you acquire merit in the next life. During Buddhist festivals, people paid a small fee to release the captured cranes.

Buddhists believe that when cranes migrate during winters and return to their homes during spring, it can be seen as a representation of Bodhisattva. Bodhisattva is a soul that returns to earth despite reaching nirvana to help the people achieve enlightenment.   

Crane Symbolism In Africa

In some regions of Africa appears a crowned crane that symbolizes language and thought. Its white feathers symbolize purity and virginity whereas the red feathers on its head are a symbol of fire and vitality. In other parts, cranes were seen as a symbol of betrayal and malice.

Cranes are migratory birds who used to return to Africa during the start of spring. Thus, they also became a symbol of the arrival of spring. Moreover, crowned cranes are the National Birds of Uganda and Nigeria, and the Blue Crane is the National Bird of South Africa. 

Crane insignia was stamped on coins and stamps in various regions of Africa. Due to how beautiful cranes look in flight, many African airlines use cranes as their symbol. Several African tribes used to hunt cranes for food but to save them from going instinct hunting cranes is considered illegal.

Though it is seen that in regions where hunger is too prominent, cranes are still hunted especially around the Sahara region where the population of cranes is slowly declining.

Crane Symbolism In Russia

Russians celebrate White Cane Day, a sad holiday started by the poet of the Republic of Dagestan Rasul Gamzatov. This is a spiritual and literary event that is celebrated in the remembrance of the Russian soldiers that died on the battlefield during the Great Patriotic war. Apart from this, it is also seen as a mode of celebrating literature and the cranes. 

October 22 is celebrated as White crane Day and is a symbol of peace and solidarity. Dagestan Rasul Gamzatov wrote a poem named crane. There was a line in the poem that said, “I think sometimes that the horsemen…”. Later, Mark Bernes, the first performer of this song suggested changing the word horsemen to soldiers.

Due to this, the poem became a symbol of fallen soldiers and people believe that the souls of the fallen soldiers turned into cranes and flew to the sky. The celebration started in the village of Gunib and later spread worldwide.  

Crane Symbolism In Greek mythology

You can find crane symbolism in Greek mythology too. There is a tale about the queen of pygmies, named Gerana who claimed to be more beautiful than queen Hera. Hera punished her by turning her into a crane.

There is another version of this tale where cranes drove the pygmies out of their homes in Geranea. Due to this, an endless war broke out between the cranes and the pygmies. There is another Greek myth about a poet named Ibycus. Ibycus was once attacked by a gang of thieves and got injured. As he lay on the ground bleeding, a flock of cranes passed above him and he vowed that those cranes would avenge him.

When the thieves entered the market to spend the stolen money, one of the men looked up and cried in terror,” Behold the cranes of Ibycus!” The authorities searching for the culprit behind Ibycus’ death, heard the cry and knew that the robbers were the ones who killed and robbed the poet. 

Cranes were also linked with Apollo, the God of prophecy. Thus, whenever a crane appeared, the Greeks and Romans would attack them and try to decipher the future through their behavior.

Crane Symbolism In the Middle East

In the Middle East, cranes are usually compared with Pheonix or the Simurgh. Cranes are a symbol of transformation and immortality. Allah’s three daughters Uzza, Allat, and Manat are often known as the “three exalted cranes.”

Crane symbolism-Aboriginal Australia

Aboriginal people were the residents of Australia. According to Aboriginal Australians, the crane is a solar bird.

The circular movement of the crane’s body and neck during courtship or defending, reminded them of the sun’s seasonal movements. Cranes are courageous creatures who protect their territories fiercely and symbolize the cycles of life and fertility. 

They also perform an intricate crane dance as a show of respect to cranes and what they symbolize.  

Crane In Dream Meaning

Cranes are graceful, sure-footed, and shy creatures who love exploring their environment. They are graceful flyers who symbolize the grace of the divine and the pursuit of knowledge. They are a sight to behold with their elegance and graceful movement.

Cranes teach you to dance in life and admire the beauty around you. Cranes are free, dancing enthusiasts, and vocal creatures who love to stay with their companions and fly in herds.

If you dream about cranes, it symbolizes staying with your family and protecting them and is a representation of your home or environment. It also symbolizes beauty and balance in nature and your surroundings. It represents self-exploration, a new direction in life, and finding one’s true self. 

Crane symbolism is of grace, reflection, softness, inner wisdom, and contemplation. If you see cranes flying in their formation, it means that you either need a reunion or to relocate to a new place. 

Crane Spirit animal

The crane spirit animal symbolizes focus, vigilance, longevity, and discipline. Thus, if your spirit animal is a crane, you need to nurture it in a natural habitat. Nature can assist you and make it easier for you to connect with your spirit animal. The appearance of a crane also symbolizes vigilance. 

Cranes are vigilant creatures that ensure the safety of their family through proper vigilance.

They are always on guard, especially at night, and fiercely protect their young ones. You too should be vigilant about your surroundings and the people around you. Don’t let your vigilance come in the way of establishing new relations but don’t get fooled too. 

Cranes are elegant creatures who love to dance. If the crane is your spirit animal then it teaches you to let yourself free and dance to your eternal tunes. The crane believes in the principle,” life is an eternal dance, so don’t worry and just flow along.“

Conclusion-Crane Symbolism & Meaning

Cranes represent purity, longevity, immortality, good fortune, and vigilance. Just like the elegance and vigilance of cranes, you should also remain calm, patient, and composed.

Cranes are consideredly holy and otherwordly creatures in many cultures. They are sacred and pure spirit animals who guide souls to heaven.

A crane helps maintain balance and is devoted to its partner. It is also the king of birds and its words are taken very seriously because of how scarcely he gives his opinion.

Thus, you should also learn from the crane and be elegant in your work, maintain a balance between your personal and professional life, and prioritize the safety and care of your family and loved ones.

More Read: Sparrow Meaning & Symbolism


"Smith is an outdoor enthusiast and Just loves everything about binoculars. Since his childhood he has been a fan of optical gadgets & going into the Jungle with his uncle was his favorite pastime. Besides, He loves watching & studying birds & animals. He is a mechanical engineering graduate and New Jersey Resident. He loves to review binoculars and related optical Instruments and loves testing each one of them." When he is not fiddling with one of his binoculars, you can find him playing his favorite sport Pickleball."

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