Senbazuru is a collection of a thousand origami canes strung together. Japanese tradition holds that anyone who folds a thousand cranes will be granted a wish, such as long life or recovery from illness. In Japan, the crane is one of the holy creatures, and is said to live for a thousand years.
Senbazuru are traditionally given as wedding gifts, in order to wish a thousand years of happiness and prosperity to the couple. They can also be given to a new baby for long life and good luck. A Senbazuru hung in the home is thought to be a potently lucky and benevolent charm.
In the west senbazuru have increasingly been given to cancer patients, and used at funerals and to decorate graves. This stems from the story of Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese girl who developed leukaemia after being exposed to radiation during the bombing of Hiroshima. Having begun an attempt to make a senbazuru, she had only managed to fold 644 cranes by the time of her death, however, her friends completed the rest and they were buried along side her.
Senbazuru are often left at temples in Japan as prayers for world peace. They are left exposed to the elements, and as they gradually disintegrate the wish is released, in a manner reminiscent to Tibetan prayer flags.
I intend to make a senbazuru using what I feel to be the three most significant articles taken from each day’s Guardian newspaper, on every day of the Chinese Year of the Dragon; 23rd January 2012 - 8th February 2013; providing a total of 1,146 stories. I will cut a square from each of the chosen articles and fold a crane from each of those I feel indicate a demand for our hopes and prayers, while those that communicate a good-news story, will be made into origami dragons. All of the paper figures will be strung together, and eventually hung outside, on next Setsuban; 9th February 2013, where it will gradually disintegrate.
Each day I will post a picture of the day’s cranes and/or dragons, along with comments and a link to the articles used on the Guardian website.