Up in the mountain skirt, shivers a tree branch and off falls something dark and round. His caw breaks the silence as if he speaks of what has happened to him and his fellows.
He is been constantly with us. The smartest playful bird that he is, since he possesses the largest-sized brain among all feathered creatures. In different nations mythology as well as the folk stories and myths, this bird is been inconsistently spoken of. From something like a black-a-vised clown full of joy and wisdom to a symbol associative to death. His screech and his habit to live out of reach has made some believe he is bad luck, a whistle blower or evil to the point that he has been treated as such.
Crow is the symbol of solitary or intentional isolation. The fact that he chooses to live up higher makes him a symbol of ambition. In Mahābhārata, crow is compared to the death messenger and in most beliefs, he is known as a solar hero (a tripod crow is considered resuscitative to the sun), a god or a god’s messenger or even an usher for the souls in their eternal journey who pervades into the dark world. In Celtic myths, he has a foreseeing role. Siberians trust it is the crow who constructs the universe and runs it.
There are beliefs among the hunters that three crows are unfortunate. Natives of American Northwest Pacific are well aware of crows’ quiddity and multi-dimensional nature and they sanctify them as a great somewhat wicked god. For Indians of North America, crow is a super creature informing people about hazards, inosculating with thunder and storm, creating wind fluttering his wings and generating lightning with his tongue. He is the god of lightning’s emissary. This god is of particular importance to these people. (Quoted from Dictionnaire des Symboles, by Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant)
Yet, crow is not always considered as vicious. In China and Japan, he is the symbol of appreciation for parents. He is also the social order symbol in China, and the God’s messenger in Japan.
In the Covenant, he is the first bird sent by Noah to find the land and it were the crows who brought aliments for Ilia the Prophet. He is also regarded as the sign of God’s willpower in the New Testament and in Christian art.
Our hunter ancestors were fully aware of this fowl’s rich intelligence. Habitually he would expose deer herds hiding shelters and would make hunters or wolves able to find their prey and therefore, he would also scavenge on the leftover.
Britain’s folk literature has paid attention to crow more than any other bird and he was regarded as an eternal godhead guarding Britain. According to various beliefs, this bird is omnipresent in our folk stories and sayings (the Crow and the Peacock, the Crow and the Eagle, One Crow-Forty Crows, The Crow's Walk, The Crow and Adam’s Son, Learning from the Crow, Crow the Cain’s Teacher “after murdering Abel by Cain, God sends a crow on the mission to teach him how to bury his brother’s corpse”, etc.
In addition, Haleh al-Mutaqqin (page 115) quotes from Muhammad the Prophet:
“Learn three manners from a crow: hiding while mating, going after meal early and being extremely cautious.”
However, the contradictory and the wide range of impressions of this bird has made these artists express their individual views on this bird in the present collection.
In the end, the more we learn about this smart jolly bird, the more we comprehend the respect he deserves being given to.