History of Peafowl

Peafowl have been around since the beginning of time. They’ve been around since the 5th day of creation! However, they have only been domesticated for the past few hundred years. Below is some information on the basic history of peafowl.

The Phoenicians are believed to be the first people to have imported peafowl 4,000 years ago. They first brought them to Egypt. Back in Biblical times, peafowl were exported all over the world as treasure. King Solomon brought many of them to Israel.

Peafowl have long been popular outside of their native countries of Southern Asia and Malaysia. The Indian Peafowl is the oldest known ornamental bird. People from China were the first people to import and domesticate them. Peafowl were raised by the Romans for both the table as well as for ornamental purposes.

The peacock has also been mentioned numerous times in Greek mythology. It was known as the bird of Hera, queen of the Gods. One old myth told of Argus, Hera's hundred-eyed giant whose job was to spy on Zeus and discover his trysting places. When he discovered Zeus was with the maiden Io, Zeus changed Io into a cow to escape Hera's wrath. Hera saw through the disguise and requested the cow as a gift. Zeus could not refuse her. She entrusted Argus to watch Io day and night so she could not be changed back to her true form. Zeus then sent Hermes, messenger of the gods, to recover Io. Knowing that he could not escape detection from Argus' 100 eyes, Hermes began to play sleepy tunes on his flute and one by one Argus' eyes closed as he fell asleep. Hermes then cut off his head. When Hera found Argus, she removed his one hundred eyes and placed them on the tail of her favorite bird, the peacock. Of course this isn’t true but it proves that peafowl were around back in Greek ancient times.

As we are talking about old tales and stories, peafowl also are mentioned in one of Aesop's fables. In the story, the peacock goes to Hera and complains that the nightingale has a sweet song and he does not. Hera replies that he has lovely. The peacock then asks what good is his beauty without a great voice. She wisely replies that every creature has its gifts and they should be content with them and who they are. The moral is that every person has their own, unique talents and gifts and should be proud of who they are and not want what others have.

By the 14th century, peafowl were spread throughout Europe, however they were uncommon and only owned by rich and powerful people. They were considered a religious symbol. The peacock has been and is still held sacred by certain Indian groups. It became the official national bird of India in 1963 and is protected by law in its habitat.

Although held in high honor in some societies, certain cultures have associated peacocks with evil. Their "tail" feathers have been called evil eyes. In these cultures it is considered bad luck to keep these feathers in the home. Many people, however, don’t believe this, along with me. Peacock feathers are beautiful and should be displayed in the house.

In many art pieces, peacocks are painted looking back at their tails. Because these feathers are renewed each year, this is considered a symbol for renewal.

Emperors, kings, and queens kept tame peacocks in elaborate gardens in ancient Mesopotamia, Persia, Israel and Greece. The Indian peafowl was first brought to the United States in 1860. Hawaii was the first place their were imported with California being the second 18 years later.

Today, peafowl can be found in any United State as well as many other countries around the world. They are kept for many reasons with their beautiful colors, feathers and personalities being the most popular. I hope you enjoyed reading about the history of the lovely peacock. Hopefully this has helped build your peafowl knowledge even further.

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