Prophet, or bad omen? Ravens and crows carry ancient symbolism—in different cultures and at different times associated with evil but also rebirth, darkness and (in Chinese mythology) the sun, spiritual strength and yet death. Given their continued association with witchcraft and the darkness of Poe, it’s surprising to see the black birds depicted as decorative motifs. (For the record: Crows, ravens, rooks, jackdaws, and magpies are of the Corvid family; blackbirds are thrushes.)
Then again, the raven (a larger relative of the crow) symbolizes gratitude and affection, wisdom, longevity, and fertility. The crow is a symbol of Christian solitude. Maybe most compelling, these birds in alchemy represent change. Intelligent and mysterious, they are blessed with keen sight.
Ravens and rooks show up often as a decorative motif in works of the Arts & Crafts movement and its revival. See them silhouetted or socializing in block prints, sculpted into tile and pottery, repeated in wallpaper designs, and depicted in the era’s metalwork and art glass.
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