Center for Research on Organizations and Workplaces

Center for Research on Organizations and Workplaces

Symbolics of CROW

According to Claude Lévi-Strauss (“Structural Anthropology”) crows (and especially ravens) have mythic status because they are mediators between life and death.

Indeed, crows are present in most known mythologies. In some Northern Indian stories raven created the world itself. The Chinese believed that the Sun was originally one of ten crows (the others were shot down, as the heat and light was unbearable, when all of them rose simultaneously). In Scandinavian folklore raven was a representation of Odin – in fact, he was believed to have two ravens, Hugin (responsible for thinking) and Munin (responsible for memory). The Hindu god, Shani, is often depicted as sitting on a crow. One of the Buddhist deities, Mahakala (protector of the Dharma) earthly manifestations is also a crow. Stories of crows abound also the Bible and Talmud.

Crows top other birds in intelligence, which was admired as early as in the “Epic of Gilgamesh”. They cooperate in groups and use sophisticated strategies for getting food and defense (they are also known to retaliate against their common predators). They use tools, and are keen observers – they are even able to recognize different people’s faces (which rarely can be said the other way around).

All these features, as well as the universal symbolics of crows, make them good patrons for our research center.

The graphics we use on the website are taken from the French edition of “The Raven” by E. A. Poe, and were drawn by Édouard Manet in 1875.

…But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered— not a feather then he fluttered —
Till I scarcely more than muttered, “other friends have flown before —
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.”
Then the bird said, “Nevermore.”…

The Japanese symbol for crow/raven (karasu, in kana: からす)

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