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The Cover
September 1, 2010

Tibetan Altar With Domestic Motifs

JAMA. 2010;304(9):939. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1186

The black-necked crane is a migratory bird that spends most of its life on the Tibetan Plateau, at elevations of 2600 to 4900 m (approximately 8500-16 000 ft). It has a long lifespan for a bird: up to 30 years in the wild. In Tibetan culture, the crane is a symbol of longevity, as is the pine tree, which retains its leaves throughout the year. On a painted wooden panel of Tibetan Altar With Domestic Motifs (cover), two black-necked cranes wade in a terraced bog meadow under a pine tree. They are juveniles, whose necks have not yet developed the distinctive black feathering of adult birds. The length of their lives lies ahead. At the corners of the panel are lotus blossoms, which symbolize the purity of a sanctified space.

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