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Peacock

PEACOCK

pe'-kok (tukkiyim (plural); Latin Pavo cristatus):

A bird of the genus Pavo. Japan is the native home of the plainer peafowl; Siam, Ceylon and India produce the commonest and most gorgeous. The peacock has a bill of moderate size with an arched tip, its cheeks are bare, the eyes not large, but very luminous, a crest of 24 feathers 2 inches long, with naked shafts and broad tips of blue, glancing to green. The neck is not long but proudly arched, the breast full, prominent and of bright blue green, blue predominant. The wings are short and ineffectual, the feathers on them made up of a surprising array of colors. The tail consists of 18 short, stiff, grayish-brown feathers. Next is the lining of the train, of the same color. The glory of this glorious bird lies in its train. It begins on the back between the wings in tiny feathers not over 6 inches in length, and extends backward. The quills have thick shafts of purple and green shades, the eye at the tip of each feather from one-half to 2 inches across, of a deep peculiar blue, surrounded at the lower part by two half-moon-shaped crescents of green. Whether the train lies naturally, or is spread in full glory, each eye shows encircled by a marvel of glancing shades of green, gold, purple, blue and bronze. When this train is spread, it opens like a fan behind the head with its sparkling crest, and above the wondrous blue of the breast. The bird has the power to contract the muscles at the base of the quills and play a peculiar sort of music with them. It loves high places and cries before a storm in notes that are startling to one not familiar with them. The bird can be domesticated and will become friendly enough to take food from the hand. The peahen is smaller than the cock, her neck green, her wings gray, tan and brown--but she has not the gorgeous train. She nests on earth and breeds with difficulty when imported, the young being delicate and tender. The grown birds are hardy when acclimated, and live to old age. By some freak of nature, pure white peacocks are at times produced. Aristophanes mentioned peafowl in his Birds, II. 102, 269. Alexander claimed that he brought them into Greece from the east, but failed to prove his contention. Pliny wrote that Hortensius was the first to serve the birds for food, and that Aufidius Lurco first fattened and sold them in the markets. It was the custom to skin the bird, roast and recover it and send it to the table, the gaudy feathers showing.

The first appearance of the bird in the Bible occurs in a summing-up of the wealth and majesty of Solomon (1 Kings 10:22 "For the king had at sea a navy of Tarshish with the navy of Hiram:

once every three years came the navy of Tarshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks"). (Here the Septuagint translates peleketoi (s.c. lithoi), equals "(stones) carved with an ax.") The same statement is made in 2 Chronicles 9:21: "For the king had ships that went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram; once every three years came the ships of Tarshish, bringing gold and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks" Septuagint omits). There is no question among scholars and scientists but that these statements are true, as the ships of Solomon are known to have visited the coasts of India and Ceylon, and Tarshish was on the Malabar coast of India, where the native name of the peacock was tokei, from which tukkiyim undoubtedly was derived (see GOLD, and The Expository Times, IX, 472). The historian Tennant says that the Hebrew names for "ivory" and "apes" were also the same as the Tamil. The reference to the small, ineffectual wing of the peacock which scarcely will lift the weight of the body and train, that used to be found in Job, is now applied to the ostrich, and is no doubt correct:

"The wings of the ostrich wave proudly;

But are they the pinions and plumage of love?" (Job 39:13).

While the peacock wing seems out of proportion to the size of the bird, it will sustain flight and bear the body to the treetops. The wing of the ostrich is useless for flight.

Gene Stratton-Porter


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'PEACOCK'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.