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.