california academy of sciences
A Thousand Cranes
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This exhibit was sponsored by the Information Division of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, San Francisco; Lite-on Cultural Foundation; National Culture and Arts Foundation; and the C.Y. Lin Cultural Foundation.

Cranes are an important symbol in the arts of China, Japan and Korea. They are often shown carrying a peach of longevity or a stalk of wish-fulfilling fungus, or with a pine tree, yet another symbol of long life. A crane in a pine tree is often used as a wedding motif, to wish the bride and groom a long life. Though their symbolic significance varies from culture to culture, each crane gesture and pose conveys a sense of calm and harmony.

A Thousand Cranes, an exhibit featuring fifty photographs of cranes, opens at the California Academy of Sciences on January 29. Through the lens of photographer Wu Shao-Tung, these photographs reveal the grace and beauty of these large birds that have been around for the last 34 to 50 million years. Cranes are found everywhere except South America and Antarctica. Yet, their numbers continue to decline due to habitat destruction and unregulated hunting.

Mr. Wu is a retired photojournalist who has spent the last eight years observing and photographing cranes in India, Siberia, Africa, China, Australia, North America, and Japan.

A Thousand Cranes will also include a jade crane statue and life-size bronze cranes on loan to the Academy from the Asian Art Museum. The Academy will display its original copy of a Double Elephant folio of John James Audobon's "Birds of America." The rare folio, one of only 134 sets, includes 435 hand-colored plates with 1,065 life-size figures of 489 different bird species.

As a gesture of goodwill to visitors to the exhibit, the Academy will hang 1000 folded paper cranes from the ceiling.


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