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190 × 135 mm
192 pages
120 illustrations, 79 in colour
01 Oct 2006

Peacock Christine E. Jackson

People in most countries are familiar with the blue peacock. It is one of the very few bird species that will tolerate a person standing within a few feet of it, and appears to appreciate an audience when it unfurls its magnificent train into a 6-7-foot arc of glittering iridescent feathers. The train feathers with their eye-spots have been prized possessions for centuries.

The first record of a peacock in the Middle East, taken there from its homeland in the Indus Valley, was when King Solomon imported them c. 950 BC. The story of the peacock spread westwards and its impact on different countries is both surprising and fascinating. Peacocks became the subject of fairy stories, legends, fables, myths and superstitions.

Images of peacocks have appeared in mosaics, frescoes, paintings from illuminated manuscripts through to modern graphics, and in the nineteenth century they represented opulence, luxury and vibrant beauty in the artefacts created by the Arts and Crafts, the Aesthetic and the Art Nouveau movements' craftsmen in glass, ceramics, metalwork, jewellery and other materials. The feathers of peacocks have been used in head-dresses, hats and helmets, to fletch arrows and to tie artificial flies for fishermen.

This is the first book to bring together all the facets of the peacock including natural and social history, its role in religions and mythology in the East and West, and its place in the history of art and artefacts.

‘Part of Reaktion’s compact and bijou (and lavishly illustrated) “Animal” series, Jackson’s volume glides through the social and natural history of this most royal and untouchable of birds with maximum elegance and minimum fuss.’ – Guardian

‘The latest addition to Reaktion’s excellent animal series . . . Winging around the globe, Jackson explores the bird’s remarkable associations, from Persia to Whistler.’ – The Independent

‘The peacock hogs the limelight in the visual world, featuring in illustrated manuscripts, paintings, tapestries, mosaics, porcelain and bolts of Arts-and-Crafts fabric, but he is a slim presence in the written world. My favourite book is Peacock by Christine E. Jackson, a scholarly ornithologist and a true writer.’ – Country Life

‘Christine Jackson’s Peacock is a gem of a book that will delight bird lovers and art historians alike’ – Archives of Natural History

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Christine E. Jackson is a writer who has researched extensively in bird art and illustration and the social and natural history of birds. She is the author of many books, including Bird Paintings: The Eighteenth Century (1994), Sarah Stone: Natural Curiosities from the New Worlds (1998), Dictionary of Bird Artists of the World (1999) and Sir William Jardine: A Life in Natural History (2001).