Sunday, June 04, 2006

May Swap

The Feng-Hwang

This card was for the May swap which was a theme of myths and legends. As a child I had a tiny book called Mythical Beasts which I still have today that always fascinated me. One of the creatures in it was this one.

“In ancient China the feng-hwang, a bird of paradise, was a bird of good omen. It had the head of a pheasant and the body and resplendent plumage of a peacock. As it flew it was accompanied by flocks of lesser birds and the sound it made was said to cause the crops to flourish and the trees to grow.

To receive a visit from the feng-hwang was to be looked on favourably by the gods, and if the bird visited the Emperor’s garden it meant that the ruler’s reign was just. No celebration was felt to be complete unless the feng-hwang graced the festivities with its presence. Its appearance at a wedding was considered especially auspicious, for the bird was believed to symbolize perfect love.

Sadly, these dazzling and benevolent creatures were not long-lived. But it is said that when a feng-hwang died, a hundred birds of the air would peck a hole in the earth so that it could be properly buried."

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