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Every year many thousands of people around the world fold paper cranes as an expression of hope for a world at peace, where non-violent means are used to resolve conflicts, and where people can live without fear. For most of these people, the origin of the paper crane as a symbol of peace probably lies with the story of Sadako Sasaki.
Sadako was just two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. While she suffered no immediate injury, the effects of her exposure caught up with her some ten years later and she fought a courageous battle with leukaemia.
During her treatment she began to fold a thousand paper cranes (senbazuru) so that her wish for good health would come true. She died before completing her task. Her fellow students folded the remainder of the thousand cranes which were buried with her.
Sadako’s courage and faith inspired her friends, and students from across the world, to raise money for a memorial to the children who were innocent victims of the atomic bomb.
Each year children and adults from all over
the world fold a thousand paper cranes to be taken to the Children’s Monument
in the Peace Park in Hiroshima.
The cranes are placed at the foot of the monument where the inscription reads:
‘This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace in the world.’
Following this practice, paper cranes are now sent to a number of other peace parks and monuments around the world. There are also opportunities to send just one folded crane. Whether one or a thousand, all are folded with the same wish for peace.
You can find out more about Sadako's story through
links from our pages of
Peace Links and Resources.
You can see some photos of Sadako at our Peace Pix - Sadako page.
And you can find out why cranes are a symbol
of peace from our Crane Lore page.
You can access crane folding instructions through some of the contacts listed on our Peace Links and Resources pages. Some of these are Web-based and you can see which one best suits your needs.
If you want print-based instructions, try those from Informed Democracy at:
If you are working with younger folders you may prefer a simpler pattern such as that for Origami Peace Doves from Peace Pals.
With only a little practice, each crane can be folded in less than three (or even two!) minutes.
Anyone from about 9 or 10 years old can master this quickly - and it's a great family activity!
For really spectacular cranes, wonderful patterns and colours of origami paper can be purchased from stationers or through specialist origami suppliers (see some contacts on our Peace Links and Resources pages).
Colourful (but not always colour-fast) medium sized craft squares from a discount stationer cost about $20AUS for a thousand, but think about buying larger squares and having them cut down to size by a friendly printer, as this can reduce the cost to less than $8 per thousand.
Just about any colourful paper can be used,
so if your budget is very limited and/or if you want to 'do your bit' for
re-using and recycling, offcuts of wrapping paper or even high quality advertising
brochures will generally take a good sharp fold and will look great.
We made these cranes from
15cm (6ins) squares of
discarded Christmas wrapping
The size of square you should use depends on what you intend to do with your cranes:
You have many possibilities for arranging or presenting your cranes:
|| These rings of cranes were made
by Genevieve Pung of Singapore.
The largest ring is about 20cm (8ins)
All the cranes are 'wings up' -
they pack very well for
| Our family made this thousand
threading 40 strands of 25 cranes
('wings up'), always in the same
colour sequence, on fishing line.
The papers were 10cm (4ins) square,
and each strand ended up about
55cm (22 ins) long, which is
quite compact for transport.
We chose to make these as
two garlands of 500 side-by-side
but they could just as easily be
made with 20 strands of 50 each
by repeating the colour sequence.
To see a range of other examples of finished cranes:
If you are making garlands of cranes, you can thread them on wool, cotton or fishing line, using a needle to pass it through the base of each crane and out the pointed top of the back.
Secure both the base and the uppermost crane with part of a match, toothpick, bead or similar.
Knot a loop in the top of each strand so that they hang to the same length.
If making rings of cranes, use a needle to pass the line through the side of each crane, forming them into a ring of whatever size you want.
If you wish to make a mobile of cranes you will also need pieces of wire or lightweight wood.
If you have lots of room for garlands (and you don't need to transport them), a spacer between each crane (such as a bead or a cut section of colourful drinking straw) will expose more of each crane's colours.
Consider attaching a message to your garland, ring or mobile of cranes or to each individual crane. You can:
If transporting your cranes to another place, consider a strip saying where the cranes have migrated from and providing an overall message or wish.
Any time is a good time to be folding, but lots of people like to set a goal to finish their cranes by a significant date. Possibilities include:
Others choose a topical focus to spur themselves on to fold cranes as a wish for peace - unfortunately we are never free of such disturbing conflicts.
Please be aware of the symbolic importance of sending your cranes to other countries - Sadako said of her cranes :
You could send your cranes to a Peace Park or Monument overseas.
For some contact addresses please visit the page Places to Send Paper Cranes.
Some projects donate their cranes to brighten the lives of residents and patients in nursing homes or hospitals, especially those treating leukaemia or cancer, thus developing a different sort of link to the Sadako story.
How do we dispose of cranes once they are finished?
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Last modified 27 September 2006
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