Wednesday, January 18, 2017

BIRDS & hyBRIDS of Myth

The Vermilion Bird of the Chinese Constalation with 5 colors in its plumage represented fire.  It is known as Zhū Què in Chinese, Suzaku in Japanese, Jujak in Korean and Chu Tước in Vietnamese.

Fenghuang, the mythological birds of East Asia, are hybrid creature who reign over all other birds.  It may have the beak of a rooster, the face of a swallow, the forehead of a fowl, the neck of a snake, the breast of a goose, the back of a tortoise, the hindquarters of a stag, the tail of a fish, the head of a golden pheasant, the body of a mandarin duck, the tail of a peacock, the legs of a crane, the mouth of a parrot, and the wings of a swallow.

The Byzantine Phoenix would crash into the fire to be reborn anew.
The Griffin of the Greek -Roman mythology is comparable to Homa of the Persians.
Simorgh is the mythical hybrid creature of Iranian mythology.  In the Avestan, the sacred book of Zoroastrians, she is described as having the head and wings of an eagle, the body of a lion and tail of a peocock.  Over time, and across cultures there were many variants.
In the 12th century, in Conference of the Birds, Sufi poet Attar describes Simorgh as the sought after leader of all birds.  But in a twist that teaches the path to Sufi  enlightenment the birds find what they seek but never see her.

Instead, the reader learns that the divine they seek is all around them, and in them.  And so, the popular image of Simorgh now is a flock of 30 birds.   Attar reveals the pun that is her name, as Si means 30 and Morgh means bird in Persian.

But no matter when or where, or called any other name, she is always described as BEAUTIFUL and BENEVOLENT, able to heal man and purify nature with her long colorful tail feathers.

Fauth has argued that all the mythical giant birds—such as Simorḡ, Phoenix, Garuḍa, the Tibetan Khyuṅ, and also the Melek Ṭāʾus of the Yezidis—are offshoots of an archaic, primordial bird that created the world. Thus Simorḡ as God in Persian mysticism would, curiously, represent a return to the original meaning.
from: Encyclopedia Iranica

Note:Anomaly A human-bird hybrid, painted in Europe in the 15th century, ignores all historic representations except one.  In Bellini's interpretation Simorgh is unmistakably female. 
5 centuries later American painter Robert Rauschenberg's uses it in one of his prints.   This xerox of a painting of the mythical Simorghwhich then copy of a copy is only version included in a popular Art History handbook, making it the Mother Ship . 
Returning to Iran after 1979 it is deemed non-Islamic and therefor censored by decree of  the Ministry of Culture in the Islamic Republic.