The crane’s noble appearance and virtues have long been loved by people. As an indispensable image in Chinese culture, the crane represents longevity, nobility, peace, grand ambition, seclusion and so on. We can see cranes on Chinese paintings, clothing patterns, ceramics, and they are often depicted in literature. So, naturally there are many Chinese idioms (Chengyu) about the cranes.
Below, we have listed the top 10 most populair crane sayings below along with their meanings. The Chinese characters for these idioms are in parentheses if you are interested!
hè lì jī qún (鹤立鸡群): Like a crane standing in a flock of chickens.
It describes a person whose appearance or talent stands out in a group of people around him/her.
hè fà tóng yán (鹤发童颜): The rosy complexion like a child and the white hair like crane feathers.
It describes the good appearance of the elderly.
guī nián hè shòu (龟年鹤寿): Longevity like the turtle and the crane.
It is said that the tortoise and the crane can live for a thousand years, this idiom is used to describe a long life.
fén qín zhǔ hè (焚琴煮鹤): Burning the zither as firewood and boiling the crane for food.
It means to spoil or destroy beautiful things.
fēng shēng hè lì (风声鹤唳): The fleeing people heard the sound of wind and cranes and suspected that there were pursuers.
It describes people who are panicking and paranoid.
xián yún yě hè (闲云野鹤): Floating clouds, wild cranes.
It describes people who live a free life and are not tied to mundane affairs.
jià hè xī qù (驾鹤西去): Ride a crane to the west.
It’s a euphemism for death.
yǎo rú huáng hè (杳如黄鹤): The immortal flew away on his yellow crane and never returned.
It describes a person is nowhere to be found or the whereabouts are unknown.
yún zhōng xiān hè (云中仙鹤): Like a white crane in the clouds.
It describes a noble and pure person.
hè gǔ sōng zī (鹤骨松姿): The frame of a crane and the posture of a pine.
It describes the elegant and remarkable manners of a person.
That’s it! We hope these Chinese crane bird poems give you insights in the symbolism of these beautiful animals in China.