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Oriental China - Emblems In Birds

( Originally Published 1911 )



Amongst the symbols used in decoration a bird on a perch is frequently found. The meaning of the symbol depends upon the kind of bird. The parrotóthe speaking birdówarns women to be faithful to their husbands. The stork and crane are emblems of longevity, ducks and geese are types of conjugal affection, and as such they are carried in wedding processions. Quails were valued because of their fierceness in fighting. The magpie was a bird of good augury, which is regarded as sacred by the present reigning family, whilst the crow was a foreteller of evil. The peacock is largely valued for the tail feathers, which designate official rank. A piece of coral and two feathers indicate the promotion of a mandarin three steps at a time, a similar coral and four feathers means five steps at a time. The pheasant is an emblem of beauty, it is often used instead of the phoenix or fong-hoang. Amongst the Chinese, gold and silver pheasants of extraordinary beauty give the motif for the rich decoration of "pheasant pheasant plates," and the varieties of the colours remind them of the duty of practising the various virtues.

Here are a pair of pheasants, the plumage in yellow, black, brown, and green, the bodies of pale apple-green. Each bird is seated upon a tall rock enamelled in rich olive green; this is covered with flowering branches in high relief, or decorated in varied colour enamels. Sup-ported on ormolu bases, Louis XVI. period. Other birds, such as eagles, falcons, and hawks, may be found in figures or groups. Early Kang-he.



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