These tales all revolve around a bird that gifted me with a feather on Tuesday. It was laying across the driveway like it had been placed there so I would be sure to find it.
The Greek Story of the Peacock’s Tail Eyes:
Zeus was having an affair with the nymph Io. Hear, Zeus’s wife, found out about it. Zeus changed Io into a white heifer. Hear sent her servant Argus to watch the cow. Argus had one hundred eyes, and when he slept some of them were always open, so he could see in his sleep. Zeus sent Hermes to save Io. Hermes played a lullaby on his flute, and as each of Argus’s eyes shut, Hermes touched it with his magic wand and sealed it shut. Finally all of Argus’s eyes were shut, and the cow ran away (according to some legends all the way to Egypt, but that’s another story). Hermes killed Argus, and Hear, to honor Argus put the eye pattern on the peacock’s tail forever.
Another contribution by Vikotas
Why the Peahen Looks Less Attractive than the Peacock?Why does the peahen look less attractive than her lordly male when the female folk the world over are more beautiful? The answer is given by the charming Sherdukpen tribesmen who inhabit the Rupa Village in the Kameng Frontier District of Arunachal Pradesh.
‘An old man, they say, who had a very beautiful daughter, brought a boy to his house for her husband. The boy used to go daily to work in his father-in-law’s fields and came home in the evening. The boy and girl fell in love with each other and thought of nothing in the world but their love.
The old man was a great lover of birds, and used to go to the forest and talk to them. But he was sad whenever he thought there was no such thing in the world as a peacock. One day he decided to make one and prepared a cloth with patches of many different colors When his daughter saw it, she said, “What are you making this cloth for?” Her father replied, “It is not for anyone special, but just for whoever can wear it.” The girl said, “Then let me wear it.” But her father replied, “No, I would rather give it to my son-in-law.” The old man put the cloth out in the sun to dry and that evening when the boy came home from work, told him to pick it up and bring it to the house. The boy thought what a lovely cloth it was, and instead of bringing it back, put it around his shoulders. As he did so he turned into a peacock. When he saw his changed shape, he began weeping for love of his wife and his father-in-law beat him and drove him away to the bank of the stream.
That evening when it got late and the boy had not come home, the girl asked where he was. When her father told her what had happened, she abused him as a sorcerer and ran weeping after her peacock- husband. She cried to him, “I am a human being and you have become a bird, so how can we be husband and wife? Tomorrow morning leave your droppings on the bank of the stream and when I come to bathe I will eat them. Then I myself will become a bird and we can live together as before.” Then the girl went home. Next morning when she went to bathe she ate the peacock’s droppings and became a peahen. At that time she was wearing a dirty cloth and that is why the wife of the peacock looks less beautiful than her husband.’ (Nair 1974:97-8)
How the Peacock got Tufts on its headThe Hill Saoras of Potta, Koraput District, tells us this story:
‘One day Kittung (supreme god of the Saoras) quarreled with his wife and she ran away and stayed with some one.
Kittung searched for her for seven days and seven nights. When he could not find her he started home: at the midday he came to Baround Hill. There he found a peacock and its hen. He called to them but they did not answer. He was annoyed and caught hold of the peacock. I-He said, ‘Have you seen my wife anywhere?’ ‘No’, it said. Kittung was now really angry and pulled out his pubic hairs and put them on the bird’s head and cut a handful of branches of a bushy shrub and pushed them into the cock’s backside.
After Kittung had gone away, his wife came along the road and found the peacock sitting under a tree weeping. She asked what the matter was and when she heard the story, she said, ‘But this will be fine clothing for you, and you’ll look most beautiful. And so it was, for a great tail grew behind and fine tufts on the head.'(Nair 1974:97-8)
The Peacock and the Crane
A peacock was very vain. He always boasted about his beautiful looks. Everyday he would go to the bank of a river. He would stand there and admire his own reflection in the water.He would say, “Just look at my tail! Look at the colors in my feathers! Look at me! I must be the most beautiful bird in the world.”
The Peacock and the Fox
Once a fox was wandering in a forest. He saw a beautiful peacock sitting on the branch of a tree at a considerable height: ‘How can I have this peacock for my meal, thought the fox to himself. He knew, he could not climb up the tree to kill the peacock.
The Jay and the Peacock
A jay venturing into a yard where peacocks used to walk, found there a number of feathers which had fallen from the peacocks when they were moulting. He tied them all to his tail and strutted down towards the peacocks. When he came near them they soon discovered the cheat, and striding up to him pecked at him and plucked away his borrowed plumes. So the jay could do no better than go back to the other jays, who had watched his behavior from a distance; but they were equally annoyed with him, and told him:”It is not only fine feathers that make fine birds.”
Now here’s a Story from Old Blighty, just for our Queen Ann:Peacock Passage
Photo was provided by our dear Vikotas. Visit her shop at www.vikotas.etsy.com
The passage was named after the inn which stood at the High Street end from 1780 until 1820.Did you know that in India the peacock’s name means “eternal light”? There is a story that when George III had partly recovered from one of his bouts of insanity his ministers got him to read the King’s Speech and he ended every sentence with the word peacock. The minister who drilled him said that peacock was an excellent word for ending a sentence, only King’s should not let their subjects hear it, but should whisper it softly. The resulting pause at the end of each sentence had an excellent effect.) One of the rich families in town used to keep peacocks, it may have been the Earl of Powys(Wales), he owned a lot of property in Shrewsbury at that time. The peacocks were kept safe in a garden, it wouldn’t do for us commoners to see them. Anyway, you might be able to hide a peacock from sight, but you can’t keep them quiet. From March to August they issue their mating cry, a harsh screeching banshee of a sound and it used to echo down the passage. At the end of the passage on the High Street was the Peacock Inn. No one is entirely sure which came first, the peacocks or the inn – the landlord was a bit like a peacock himself, always trying out the new fashions, strutting up and down the bar – the vainest man in the whole of the town. The peacocks might have been put there just as a joke and a bit of mickey taking. The inn was one of the more up-market in town and was where the young gentlemen of the town used to meet and gather, and watch the women walking past. It became a bit of a game. The young men would hang around the inn, strutting up and down, displaying their outfits, not unlike the peacocks themselves. As they saw a young woman walking past, particularly after an ale or two they’d give a great whooping call, imitating the sound of a peacock and give chase after her. Of course depending who was chasing, some young women would run faster than others! Now Mary was in service at the grand house. She was 13 and as one of the youngest maids, tended to get all the jobs that no one else wanted to do and one of those chores was to look after the peacocks and the peahens, to feed and water them and to try and stop them devouring the flowers on their hunts for insects. Mary didn’t think of it as a chore, though, it was one of her favourite jobs. She’d given each a name and loved to stand and watch them parade around the grounds. (Sound familiar?) Unfortunately, she had plenty of other jobs to do and she was usually kept busy, running here and there all day and the young men sat in the inn were always appreciative as she hurried past on this errand or that. One evening, Mary had been sent out on an errand and had been delayed so that she had to walk home in the dark. She was hurrying back towards the house, the kitchen and her supper. It was early in the year, not quite spring and there was a cold edge to the wind, now that the sun had gone down. She made her way past the inn and into the passage, but as she passed the door, it swung open, letting the noise and light spill out onto the street. She heard the sound of drunken laughter behind her and then a sound that made her blood run cold, a raucous whooping, a little like the sound of the peacock and then footsteps. She picked up her skirts and she began to run, as fast as she could, her heart thumping against her ribs. She could see a light before her and ran towards it, looking for an ally. Suddenly the light grew brighter, almost blinding. Mary stopped dead in her tracks. Filling the end of the passage was a peacock, its tail held aloft, each eye in its tail radiating light. Mary heard the men stumble to a halt behind her. The peacock slowly turned its head and its glittering black eyes held the men rigid. Suddenly it opened its beak and let forth a loud, harsh grating screech. All at once the moon and the stars disappeared. There was a whirring sound and suddenly the air was full of fluttering feathers, sharp beaks, and clawing talons. Mary stared in disbelief as pigeons, sparrows, robins, starlings, blackbirds, owls and ravens, all the birds in town, descended into the passage attacking her pursuers, driving them back until they turned on their heels and fled back to the inn. A whirr and a flutter and once again the sky was clear and the passage empty except for a young girl and an escaped peacock.
AKiwiSilkie, Wado for these delightful peacock stories. AKiwiSilkie has two stores on Etsy. Here is an example of her work in each:
The fabric is a sand/camel print with pink/rose peacock feathers.
And from her other store, Howling Caterpillars:
To see more of her work, please go to: