BetaThis search tool is in development. Find out more.
Digital Images

Ming herbal (painting): Siberian white crane

Available online

view Ming herbal (painting): Siberian white crane


Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
You can use this work for any purpose, including commercial uses, without restriction under copyright law. You should also provide attribution to the original work, source and licence.
Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) terms and conditions
Credit: Ming herbal (painting): Siberian white crane. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Selected images from this work

About this work


Painting of the Siberian white crane (baihe) in the meticulous (gongbi) style, in colour on silk, from Bencao tupu (Illustrated Herbal). The painted illustrations in Bencao tupu were jointly executed by Zhou Hu and Zhou Xi in 1644 (the final year of the Ming period). The explanatory texts were provided by Zhou Rongqi. The book was not completed: each volume was to have contained 14-15 paintings, but only 29 are extant. Zhou Rongqi writes: The Siberian white crane is also known as xianqin (lit. fabulous beast) and taiqin (lit. embryo beast). It is 3 chi in length (1 chi [Chinese foot] = c. 1/3 m.) and 3 chi in height. It has a long neck and short tail, and the beak is 4 cun in length (1 cun [Chinese inch] = c. 3 cm). The head and neck are red, and it has bright red cheeks and eyes. The feet are black. The plumage is generally white, but grey and green specimens are also found. It is a wader, whose usual habitat is shallow water and river banks. It has a loud, resonant call. The flesh and blood of the crane have the medicinal effects of replenishing Qi and insufficiency detriment (xusun). The ancients used it to treat deficit of Qi and blood, and physical frailty and emaciation. The crane's brain has the effects of nourishing the liver and improving vision. It is used to treat obscured and indistinct vision.


Siberian white crane (baihe)


Permanent link

We’re improving the information on this page. Find out more.