Symbols

Peacock

孔雀 · [ kǒngquè ]

The peacock (peafowl) is a species in the pheasant family and known as the first cagebird in human history. Its name is an onomatopoeic interpretation of its shouting, which stands in strong contrast to his physical splendor. According to an old fable, the proud peacock, immersed in his own beauty, was looking down to his feet and shocked by his ugly chicken claws, not fitting at all to his enchanting plumage … he shrieked, lamented and plaintively insulted the gods for this flaw. As a punishment for his vanity he should maintain that croaking voice until all eternity.

However, the identification with vanity, pride and arrogance is a relatively new aspect of the peacock’s symbolism. Only since the modern times the peacock is seen as a symbol of vanity and narcissism, mainly because of its remarkable courtship behavior. Before that shift, its symbolic meaning was positive throughout. Similar to the phoenix, the peacock is regarded as a solar bird, whereby its fan can equally symbolize sunrise and sunset. The thousand eyes of its plumage do see everything, so it is no surprise the peacock is seen as valid guard. One even says that these eyes get directed towards eternity.

In China the peacock is known for its dignity and beauty. In India the symbolic focus is rather on the peacock’s connection to the sun and its transcendent skills – equally true for early Christianity, where in addition, the peacock is also a symbol for immortality and resurrection and one believed that its meat was imperishable. The peacock’s fan looks like a halo including all colors, what made this bird patron of the saints and a holistic nature symbol

The peacock is closely related to the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, the Greek goddess Hera and the Chinese bodhisattva Guan Yin. Many other gods and heroes are also depicted in company with this splendid bird; to some of them the peacock serves as a throne or as a mount.

 

> Usage of the symbol

The peacock’s frequent use in art is primarily motivated by its magnificent and decorative beauty. Beside that, one easily forgets that it also embodies spiritual and protecting qualities like transcendence, wholeness, dignity and security. So don’t hesitate if you find a picture that suits you. This symbol can spread its beauty everywhere in the house, however it unfolds the spiritual components best in the center of your home (Bagua n° 5) or in the area for helpful friends (Bagua n° 6). In the south area it can help you to establish a good reputation, respect and dignity – on behalf of the vermilion bird.

For an overview of specific birds, related hybrid creatures and mythological figures see:

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