Three Legged Crow – T.F. Walsh’s Kick-Ass Mythology



While many cultures and mythologies view crows as harbingers of death, occupying cemeteries and dark forests, some Asian cultures view them as guides who represent the sun. Depending on what folklore you read, the crow can be an ominous or helpful presence.

The three-legged crow is a mythological creature found in various parts of East Asia. It is believed that the crow represents the sun, and in some cases inhabits the sun itself.

In Chinese mythology, the three-legged crow is known by three names – Sanzuwu meaning ‘three legged bird’, Yangwu and Jinwu, both meaning the ‘golden crow’. According to folklore, the crow has red feathers instead of black. The three-legged crow is also responsible for the sun’s passage across the sky. Depictions of the crow have been found along the Yangtze River in China and date as far back as 5000 BC!

In Japanese mythology, the three legged-crow is known as Yatagarasu. The crow was believed to be a guide sent from heaven to help Emperor Jimmu on his journey from Kumano to Yamato. The crow is believed to be divine intervention in human affairs, and is seen in a positive light in Japan. The Japanese national football team even uses the symbol of Yatagarasu on their emblems.

In Korean mythology, the three-legged crow is referred to as Samjok-o. The crow was believed to live in the sun, while a turtle inhabited the moon. It was so revered in Korea for his power that he was believed to be superior to a dragon!

The symbol of the three-legged crow can be found throughout East Asia, and even in popular culture such as the Yu-Gi-O! trading card game, and in contemporary Korean dramas.

Now when it comes to crow symbolism, they are generally associated with gods and goddesses of war. This is probably linked to the presence of crows on battlefields, picking on the remains of poor victims who lost their lives. But remember, crows eat carrion, they don't kill.

In ancient Egyptian myths, crows are seen as a symbol of faithful love due to the birds being monogamous. However, when you look at Hindu, many believe crows bring food and water to the deceased ancestors on a relative's death. Now when we move onto Irish mythology, these birds are frequently associated with Morrigan, the goddess of war and death. But they also think that crows gathering in a tree are seen as souls from Purgatory. The Celts thought they were an omen of death and conflict. In England, some see a solitary crow as a representation of anger. Some Russian myths have witches transforming into crows.

Crows have an amazing mythology behind them, and it varies so much depending on the culture. But very often they are associated with past-life connections. Would love to hear what myths you've heard about crows.

Did you know? A group of crows is called a murder of crows?

References: AcademiaWikipedia 

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2 thoughts on “Three Legged Crow – T.F. Walsh’s Kick-Ass Mythology

  1. I've only heard the stories that crows are harbingers of death or used in magic.  They do creep me out though.  It's amazing how the different cultures see these birds.  I so enjoy these emails!

  2. Where I grew up, the crow (not a 3legged one) was a messenger, usually from the teepee of the winds.

    In Nordic mythology, Odin, or Wodin, had two crows who would observe humans and report back to him. Sometimes these arena gift to replace the eye he surrendered to obtain his wisdom.

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