Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Peacock's Eye

My friend George lives near Fountaindale Grand Manor (the pretentiously renamed former Ranelagh House). That guest house still has Peacocks roaming the grounds, and the neighbourhood.

George's photo of the Peacock on the bird feeder.

I wrote about the Peacock which visits George back in April last year. You need to understand that while Peacocks are very decorative, they are noisy birds (they were kept as security alarms in pre-electronic days, in the large British estates, and are both more decorative and safer to keep than a bunch of slavering attack dogs). However, they do not endear themselves to everybody in the district, when they crow (scream, almost) early in the morning. You can listen to a recording of a Peacock call (quietly) - here. In real life, the call is very penetrating, especially in the early morning. And did I mention that they defecate frequently, and voluminously?

My photo of the Peacock at George's place, last April.
Anyway, I like to see George's visiting Peacock (occasionally) - but while I like the Peacock for aesthetic reasons, I know he causes George and some of the other neighbours some grief.

Anyway, today the Peacock was visiting George (as I was too). I noticed when I arrived, that the Peacock was trailing one extremely long display feather. Unlike the native Lyrebird, these feathers actually grow on the back of the bird, not on its tail, but that is another story. This feather was hanging loosely behind the bird, but it refused to drop on the ground. However, after a bit of scouting around I found several discarded feathers - one in excellent condition. George gave me permission to keep these feathers. But before I left (with my treasures) George warned me that some people regard Peacock feathers as bad luck (inside the house). I had no idea.

Sure enough, when I checked the Internet I found no end of references to this superstition. In fact, apparently they are regarded as good luck - in Asia; but bad luck - in the Middle East and Europe. It seems this superstition is linked to the myth of Argus, and to the myth of the "Evil Eye". I shall not go into those vast subjects, (you can follow the links yourself). But I did learn that the Italians believe that phallic symbols, especially those little red horns that adorn millions of car windows in Italy, will ward off the effects of the "Evil Eye".

So that is one of my life-long puzzles solved. One down, 300 million still not explained!

Out of deference to George's sensibilities I have not brought the Peacock feathers into my house, lest something bad happen, and George might be forever able to say: "I told you so". That would be too hard for me to bear.
But I have ascertained (from George) that photographs are safe. I just love the magnificent sheen (caused by the way the feathers reflect light) on these display feathers, and the wonderful effectiveness of these iconic feathers as a display feature.

Whatever the human superstitions which have grown up around these feathers, clearly they serve their purpose for the Peacocks and their sombre Peahen partners.

1 comment:

Barbee' said...

Ha, ha! that brings back memories of me standing at the back door of my great-aunt and uncle's kitchen (their farm was eden to a kid), and screaming at the peafowl and would get them to going good until the women in the kitchen made me hush.