Peacock motif

Peacock window of the Kumari house, Basantapur

I like ancient Hindus' description of peacock, it is precise and witty: "it has the feathers of an angel, the voice of the devil and the walk of a thief". You can see peacock image in so many places here in Kathmandu: it is a popular motif on windows and doors, it is a fashionable jewelry theme, it is a decoration item at weddings. Such popularity comes not only from the bird's beautiful look. In Hindu-Buddhist culture the peacock is viewed as a general symbol of good luck and prosperity.

Peacock sculpture on the way to Swayambhunath stupa

This regal bird, also known as sun-bird here, is the vehicle of Kartikeya or Kumar, the god of war and love. Goddess Saraswati, who often rides on the swan or tortoise, also uses this bird as her vehicle. The gate of paradise, it is said, is guarded by the peacock. There are some peculiar beliefs about peacocks as well. For example, it is believed that if a dumb child is fed with peacock meat, he will get back his speech. Or, how about this one: a talisman made out of a peacock bone enclosed in gold-case and tied on the right hand will win over the opposite sex.

Peacock window of the house in Bhaktapur

In India and Nepal a fan of peacock feathers is often kept in the house as a protection device. The fans are designed so as to make maximum use of the eye markings on the feathers. It is believed that these will keep a permanent watch for any evil spiriits and repel them if they come close.

Peacock dance in the Nepali Chulo restaurant

In earlier days those of royal rank were given the special protection of large peacock-feather umbrellsas on formal occassions.



Peacock theme decorations at the Indian wedding

Indian and Nepali maharajahs favored the peacock motif and adorning this symbol on clothes, jewelry and paintings was considered a matter of great pride and prestige. They would get their attendants to fan them with peacock feathers which also was an indication of luxury and nobility.

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