March 27, 2010

Peacocks - in all their splendour



Enjoy the Foochow dialect song " Peacock Flying South "


There's a beautiful peacock farm near Sun Moon Lake which was initiated by President Chiang Kai Shek in 1968. Chiang was a man with aesthetic tastes and he spear headed many interesting developments in this part of Taiwan. One can say that he was a man before his time : a man who knew what the good life was all about. And he definitely left a good place for future travellers to enjoy . There are more than 200 peacocks in this zoo. And it was the first time I saw an albino peacock.





Pretty eyes...reminds me of the eye makeup of Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra.




One can always learn to strut (John Travolta) as a peacock...proud and with such a fantastic flare of plumes...



It is hard to describe the dynamics involved in getting all these plumes or feathers up in such a majestic way......






I love the legend below...have always been a romantic at heart because our Chinese culture is just so full of such legends....

The legend A Peacock Flying to the Southeast was the work of an anonymous poet living in the Jian An period at the end of the Han Dynasty (196—219 AD). It is one of the collections of the Music Academy (yuefu) formed by the Eastern Han courts to gather literary works created largely but not exclusively by common people. Unlike a Western epic, Chinese poems of this genre, known as the "Han Yuefu songs," use vernacular language and depict mostly the average people. A typical yuefu song has regular five-syllable lines and both Mulan and A Peacock Flying to the Southeast follow this rule.

A Peacock Flying to the Southeast was a tragic love story of a young man named Jiao Zhongqing and his wife Liu Lanzhi. Although the newly weds loved each other very much, Zhongqing’s widowed and perhaps morbid mother could not stand Lanzhi coming between her and her son. Eventually she broke up the marriage. The young couple’s dream of coming together was shattered when Lanzhi’s mother and brother forced her to marry someone else. As a protest, they took their own lives, fulfilling their vow of living together in the other world.

It is alleged that the legend has its root in real life. In the Qinghuang County of Anhui Province, one can find a grave, known as the Peacock Tomb, believed to have entombed the couple. The word “peacock” comes from the first line of the poem, which is used to introduce the rest of the story, a style typical of the Han Yuefu songs. The image of "a lone peacock flying to the southeast, looking back every few miles," was used to accentuate the feelings of Jiao Zhongqing and Liu Lanzhi forced apart by their oppressive families.

Adapted into different art forms including various national and local operas, A Peacock Flying to the Southeast is well-known to the Chinese and enjoys a prominent place in Chinese literary history. Yet none of the eminent literary critics ever mentioned it in their works before the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD). A possible reason may be that the theme of defying the social order was not politically right and so each monarchy tried to discourage the legend's dissemination. However, its publicity has gained momentum since the turn of the twentieth century when women began to be awakened to the cause of their emancipation from a male-oriented society.
Story retold/ translated by Haiwang Yuan, ©2004
Last updated: March 27, 2004

Here's the albino peacock.....

11 comments:

Ann said...

According to my dubious source of Chinese TV, they often have a MIL confronting her son," Remember, you have only one mother, you can have numerous wives."

Peacocks are not my fav birds, they are handsome, and they strut. The poor peahen is just plain Jane. LOL

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Ann
The story in this legend is big...MIL is often the bad lady...hahahaha..men may have faults but very often their faults are underpinned by women's (mothers') power struggles...and the vicious circle goes round and round...my own father's stepmother was a fantastic strategist according to family stories...she who did not have a PhD but acquired a unbelievable fortune spreading to Australia and Singapore. Amy Tan's stories have some parallels in her life.

Anonymous said...

hello Madam Chang
Ple COME help with the newsletter this weekend.
Thanks.....
M

Sarawakiana@2 said...

M....hahahahah...went there and did what I had to do....see you next week hopefully.

Ann said...

Yaw, yaw, yaw,
yaw dow wah po kia.

Your Chinese must be very good Make Mr. Kwang and Mr. Ow very proud.

As for me, I failed my Chinese, luckily for Chinese TV in Singapore, now I can converse in Mandarin. TV a better teacher.

I just invited to dinner an old 80 plus China man originally from Canton then to Harbin. He's my student from ESOL. He's a widow and I wanted to share my Christian love. We all had a great time. Just a simple home cooked meal, but it was the warmth that mattered.
My Chinese Passed.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi...It must have been nice to have this guy around. Lots of stories there. Harbin will always be a great place to go visit one day..My dad had a good holiday there when he was a student...and he often talked about Tientsin too. Shanghai was where many of his good friends stayed. He left China in 1937 when Nan Jing was bombarded/destroyed by the Japanese. He was in Singapore for a while as a journalist and then Gran Dad asked him to come home....

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ann...tell the old friend that he is lucky to have a friend/teacher like you!!

Bengbeng said...

great pics here. i have seen its feather but this is the first time i have actually seen it so clearly in pics. quite funny u mentioned John Travolta in this context hahahaha

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Bengbeng


No each time I think Strut I think Travolta and automatically Peacock....because when I saw boys struting in school before...I would think of them walking like peacocks....they did stick their chest out.....and it is really....strut ...strut...and nice they put their toes like that too...

Peacocks are nice birds to watch especially because of their colours.

Ann said...

You may have heard from your sis that Kiwis call each other by their first name, and I really don't like it when my students call me Ann. My big sis who has taught in Sarawak all her life says it is no respect and I agree. Now wonder we have so much trouble.

I meant to say, I told the class we better call this old student LAW ZHOU instead of calling his name. He calls me LAW SHI, I wanted to tell him to call me by my Chinese name Kit Suet, but he kept calling me Law Shi even in my house.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Ann
Yeah it will take me a while to get used to people /students calling me by my first name.My former students from the government would always call me Madam. Methodist School students would call me Mrs. X. And my teacher trainee would call me Madam C. So I sort of roughly can tell where they originate. and the Foochows would call me Sin Nang...and I would know that they are from Sibu...so this is how I can remember my students.

I remember my Limbang and Kanowit students best because those were the first two years of my teaching life. And then my students of MSS are very humble and affectionate too They would always come forward to give me a hug. Some how they do recognise me after all these years. So it makes it so remarkable to renew friendships etc...They still won't call me by first name.

I am sure your student would call you Law Shi. The hawkers in Miri also call me law shi or cikgu...

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