The peacock – something to be proud of?

The peacock is a mightily impressive bird, both admired and feared throughout the world. Not only does it have the most breathtakingly beautiful tail, or ‘train’ as it is called, enormous, dramatic and covered in iridescent ‘eyes’, it also emits the most terrifying scream said to be loud enough to wake the dead! I am always somewhat disappointed when I hear their call as such a beautiful bird should make a much more pleasant sound, but I digress…

I bought a rather lovely storage box online recently with a beautiful peacock design on it and, while searching for it, the number of peacock designs I came across, used on all sorts of products, was quite astonishing!

The blue peacock, or peafowl, that we see most often in this country, originates from India and Sri Lanka and is related, unsurprisingly, to the pheasant. While it would be natural to think their stunning train feathers contain vivid pigments – they don’t. It’s much more complex than that and involves ‘barbules’ – fibre-like components. Slight changes to the spacing of these barbules result in the different colours.

Peafowl – oh let’s just call it a peacock and have done with it – are forest birds that nest on the ground, but roost in trees. They have an interesting diet and are omnivorous and eat mostly plant parts, flower petals, seed heads, insects, reptiles and even amphibians. Wild peacocks are not picky and will eat almost anything they can fit in their beaks and swallow! Domesticated peacocks have a slightly different and a more varied diet than their wild cousins. Sometimes they eat grass, different kinds of seed, flower petals, insects and whatever their owners feed them. This is usually similar to the food given to chickens, such as corn and oats and even cheese and rice. 

The peacock appears as an important symbol in many cultures and religions. In Christianity, the peacock symbolism represents the ‘all-seeing’ church, along with the holiness and sanctity associated with it. The peacock also represents resurrection, renewal and immortality within the spiritual teachings of Christianity.

Hindu mythology says the peacock is a magical sacred bird that’s often associated with the god of thunder, Indra. The story says that the peacock will dance when rain comes.

Chinese mythology sees the peacock rather differently to Hindus. They see it as a symbol of dignity and beauty and it is often associated with the resurrection of Christ according to Christian art. This is because the peacock will moult its tail feathers only for them to re-grow again later.

To many Europeans, the peacock is an evil bird, the ‘eyes’ in the tail feathers are related to the ‘evil eye’ and it’s a sign of impending doom to look upon them!

As a crafter, I find their colours entrancing and their shape and intricate feather design inspiring and versatile, while peacock blue is a definite favourite colour of mine. I just typed ‘peacock’ into our craft shop and found we have no less than 12 items listed… OK, so one of them is a peacock butterfly, but still…

8 Comments
8 replies
  1. Kate says:

    Oh me too, I even have a peacock themed room in my house!
    We used to have them at a place where I once worked, and they do have quite a ghostly scream but fortunately they only did it in broad daylight in full view of us all, so no spooking us at night time!

    hugs
    Kate
    xx

    Reply
  2. Prickles says:

    As a child (oh my 54 years ago)I visited Whipsnade Zoo. Just inside we where met by a group of peacock. Having never seen one except in a book I said "I wish he would open his tail", and right on cue he did. Beautiful. I have never tired of seeing these gorgeous creatures spooky screech or not.

    Reply
  3. sallyann says:

    my daughter used to work somewhere that had peacocks strutting about.. they have been there for years..ones called freddie and he just pops in and out the shops..hes great. carnt say i find the noise very alarming…maybie i just got used to it. lovely birds. x

    Reply
  4. Judy M, Q'ld, Australia says:

    I absolutely adore peacocks and their beautiful feathers. I have had the privelige of seeing them in dance -they are certainly magnificent birds!

    Warm wishes, Joanna and many thanks for this article.

    Judy Munn

    Reply
  5. Judy M, Q'ld, Australia says:

    I absolutely adore peacocks and their beautiful feathers. I have had the privelige of seeing them in dance -they are certainly magnificent birds!

    Warm wishes, Joanna and many thanks for this article.

    Judy Munn

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

5 + 1 =