Book Illustration, The Birds of North America: the descriptions of species based chiefly on the collections in the Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, vol. 2, Grus Fraterculus (Little Crane), plate 37, ca. 1855
This 1850s hand-colored lithograph depicting the Grus Fraterculus, or Little Crane, was illustrated by John Cassin (American 1813–1869) for the Pacific Railroad Surveys as the western regions of the United States were explored. While cranes are often shown flying or in their mating dance, this brown crane is standing still, poised on one leg, on the bank of a body of water amid sparse vegetation. The crane is a long-necked and long-legged bird with a streamlined body and is found on nearly every continent. It is a highly symbolic bird in many cultures. Greek and Roman myths often portrayed the dance of cranes as a love of joy and a celebration of life. Throughout Asia, the crane is a symbol of happiness and eternal youth. In Japan, the crane symbolized good fortune and longevity because of its fabled life span of 1,000 years. It is a favorite subject of the tradition of origami or paper folding.
It is credited
Collection of Smithsonian Institution Libraries.