Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

NOVA Online (click here for NOVA home)
Island of the Spirits
Site Map


Japanese crane Japanese Crane
Ainu Legends
Crane

Why the Ainu hold the crane in such high regard
The crane is thought much of by the people. He goes by the name of sarorun chikap, that is to say, "the bird among the tall grasses" ... The inner lining of the crane's nest is said to consist of wool, and the name given it is setsambe, i.e., "the pulse or the heart of the nest." Should an Ainu find one of these, he considers himself a rich man at once, for such a treasure will, it is supposed, speedily bring prosperity and riches. The nest lining is taken, wrapped up in inao shavings [inao are ceremonial totems made of whittled willow sticks], and carefully put away in a box at the northeast or sacred corner of the hut.

I am told that this treasure is sometimes taken down, placed by the fireside, and devoutly worshipped by those who possess it. Inao also are then made and presented to it, and sake drunk on its behalf. When they can get it, the women stow it away in their little storehouses as charms. They believe that the possession of one will procure an abundance of garden produce and give them special skill in their embroidery.

Next: Water-ouzel
Back to Ainu Legends



Photo: BBC

Origins of the Ainu | Ainu Legends | Find Your Way
Resources | Transcript | Site Map

Editor's Picks | Previous Sites | Join Us/E-mail | TV/Web Schedule
About NOVA | Teachers | Site Map | Shop | Jobs | Search | To print
PBS Online | NOVA Online | WGBH

© | Updated November 2000

Support provided by

For new content
visit the redesigned
NOVA site