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Peacock Bird Characteristics, Pictures and Symbolism

Updated on August 10, 2017
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Radhika loves beautiful birds and flies. She is curious to know about their life and characteristics that she does immense research on them.

Peacock fanning its plumes
Peacock fanning its plumes | Source


Peacock is the name of the male peafowl that belong to the Asiatic species of flying birds in the genus Pavo of the pheasant family, Phasianidae. This graceful bird's vibrant plumage is what makes it most beautiful among all the birds. The peacock is designated as the national bird of India and the provincial bird of Punjab.The female is a peahen and the offspring peachick. Peahens lack the long eye-spotted tail and have a grey/brown color. There are 3 species of peafowl namely Indian Peafowl, Green Peafowl and Congo Peafowl.

The color mutations of Indian Peafowl very rarely occur in the wild, but selective breeding has made them common in captivity. In this mutation, the adult male is melanistic with black wings. Young birds with the nigripennis mutation are creamy white with fulvous tipped wings. The genetic variation is the result of production of melanism in the male. In the peahen it produces a dilution of color with creamy white and brown markings.

White peacock produced from selective breeding
White peacock produced from selective breeding | Source

Characteristics of peacock


1. Head

The crest atop the head of a peacock acts like a crown. This crown adds to its beauty along with the provoking plumage. These erect decorations can be compared to the head of a girl with flowers adorning the hair. The beak is long and pointed on the blue or green colored face. Patches of white color outline the eyes like some make-up put for brightening up.

2. Tail

This is the classic feature that makes a peacock extravagantly beauteous. God has woven the tail of a peacock like a train of designed and colored feathers. This character distinguishes its ‘strut’ from a mere ‘walk’. Peacocks usually make the brilliant display of its plumage to attract females. Mating starts during rainy season and the dazzling dance of the peacocks at the outset of the rains is a spectacular show off. The array of yellow, blue and green colors in its fanned tail is a result of the angle at which light shines through the feathers.

3. Body

Peacocks are one of the largest flying birds in the world. It is more than 2 feet tall when stood erect. In the fanned tail position it would high more than 5 feet. The bird has a relatively long blue colored neck. The feet looking like that of an emu, the three-toed peacock struts that establish it “proud”.

Characteristics of a peacock
Characteristics of a peacock | Source

Feathers


The Indian peacock feathers look eye-spotted with hues blue and green surrounded by gold. Long, thin wires of these hues are closely knit that makes this feather stand out. This color combination is one cause for the iridescence of these feathers. But the main cause of this vibrancy is optical interference Bragg reflections, based on regular, periodic nanostructures of the barbules (fiber-like components) of the feathers. Masks, costumes or crafts are decorated by these beautiful plumes with a dramatic flair. Peacock feathers have a length of 11” normally.

Peacock feathers have got a prominent place in the spiritual world. Their power of healing is very well appreciated in different cultures. With the proper guidelines of use, peacock feathers allow the individual to connect with the Universal Healing Energy and use this energy to heal people of all of their complaints, imbalances and disease.

Peacock feathers
Peacock feathers | Source

Symbolism


Peacock symbolism speaks of attributes such as:

  • Nobility
  • Holiness
  • Guidance
  • Watchfulness
  • Protection
  • Royalty
  • Compassion

Peacock is considered to be divine and a good cause in various cultures. Let’s have a look at its significance and symbols in them.



Devi Saraswati
Devi Saraswati | Source

1. In Hinduism

In Hinduism, peacock is related with divine powers. Goddess Saraswati, Lord Krishna and Lord Muruga are associated with peacocks in a way with several implied meanings.

Goddess Saraswati is the deity of knowledge, meditation, spirituality, purity, arts, good cause and river. Worshipping her would shower the believer with knowledge in his area of interest. A peacock stands beside her which is a symbol of pride and beauty. As Goddess Saraswati is related with a good cause, she is conveying the message that inner beauty is real and pure rather than external.

Lord Krishna
Lord Krishna | Source


Lord Krishna wears a peacock feather in his head. Also he ties one on the flute he plays. It is said that one day Krishna was playing his flute in the Govardhan hills. His song was so melodious and enchanting that peacocks in the hills started dancing to the rhythm of the song. At the end of the play, the King of the blissful peacocks touched Lord Krishna’s Lotus feet and gave its plumes to honor him. God Sri Krishna accepted them and wore one on his head and tied another one on his flute.

Lord Muruga
Lord Muruga | Source

Peacock is also the mount of God of war Murugan, also called Karthikeya, the brother of Ganesha. The Peacock became the mount of Murugan and flew around the world and to the heavens. When the peacock holds a serpent in its claws or beak, its power in destroying malevolent cosmic forces is symbolized. By the medieval period the peacock also became a symbol of the ocean. As a cosmic symbol the peacock represents totality as does Murugan. Hindus celebrate the festival "Thaipoosam" to commemorate the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan the "vel" or spear. Devotees dance holding "kavadi" in their shoulders that is decorated with peacock feathers.

2. Yezidi culture

The Yezidis or Yazidis are a Kurdish speaking people who live principally in Northern Iraq. Peacock is the vehicle of their Supreme Power in the creation of cosmos.

The Yezidi (Yazidi) cosmology and religion is non-dual. According to them, a transcendental God created the Seven Great Angels, whose leader was Tawsi Melek, the Peacock Angel. Yezidis believe that the Supreme God was originally “over the seas” that has coincidence with the Biblical passage, “And the Spirit of God (as seven Elohim) moved upon the face of the waters”. While playing with a white pearl, their Supreme God cast it into this cosmic sea. The pearl was broken from which the universe was created.

The Supreme God then created or manifested an angel in this mission. It was Tawsi Melek, the Peacock Angel. Six more great angels were then created to assist Tawsi Melek in his work. When Tawsi Melek descended to Earth, he assumed the form of a glorious peacock – a bird with green, blue, white, gold and brown colors. Landing in a place now known as Lalish, Tawsi Melek delivered his colors to the earth and endowed it with beautiful, picturesque locations.

3. Greco-Roman culture

In Greco-Roman mythology the Peacock is identified with Hera or Juno, the queen of Gods. She created the hundred-eyed giant Argus to watch god Zeus’ trysting places. When Argus spotted him with his maiden Io, Zeus turned her to a cow to save her from Hera. Hera understood the disguise and asked Zeus for the cow as a gift and he could not refuse her. Zeus sent the messenger of gods, Hermes to recover Io. But Argus’ hundred-eyes were always on the cow and Hermes had to play a trick to distract him. He played a sleepy tone on his flute and the hundred eyes of Argus fell into sleep one by one. Hermes killed him and changed the cow back into Io. When Hera found Argus dead, she plucked the one-hundred eyes and kept them on the tail of her favorite bird, peacock. These eyes symbolize the vault of heaven and the "eyes" of the stars.

Ancient Greeks and Europeans considered the one-hundred eyes of peacock as evil eyes.


Juno and the peacock
Juno and the peacock | Source

4. Christianity

Christian culture gives emphasis to the bird peacock by representing it as an emblem of immortality. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is what adds fact to this belief. Every year peacock sheds its feathers which get replaced by new, thick and brighter ones. Likewise, Jesus also appeared on the earth with more power and brightness during his resurrection. If the peacock is portrayed drinking from a vase, it symbolizes a Christian drinking the waters of eternal life. In addition, the multitude of eyes upon its gorgeous fan tail is being characterized as the “all seeing” church in Christianity.

Resurrection of Jesus Christ
Resurrection of Jesus Christ | Source

5. In Asia


The Peacock bird is associated with Goddess Kwan-yin in Asian spirituality. Kwan-yin (Quan Yin) is an emblem of love, compassionate watchfulness, good-will, nurturing and mercy. The evolution of peacock is connected with this goddess in Asian culture. When the earth was created, she dwelt with the living beings that were newly made and taught them how to be kind to their fellow beings. But after she ascended, the animals started quarreling themselves and the watchful Kwan yin had to descend again to resolve their fights. As she could not watch the entire earth to spread the feeling of compassion, goddess Kwan Yin created the beautiful peacock with one-hundred eyes on its tail. She entrusted the bird to keep faith in its job of watching and spreading love.

goddess Kwan Yin
goddess Kwan Yin | Source


6. In Islam


In Babylonia and Persia, the peacock is seen as a guardian to royalty and is often seen in engravings upon royal thrones.

Peacock tattoos


Different peacock tattoos reveal different characters. As peacock is given a prominent place in almost all cultures of the world, wearing a tattoo of this glorious bird is considered to be optimistic. The etching of this colorful and flamboyant bird depicts beauty and grace. Even though it is the male species, a peacock tattoo is much coveted by the female folk owing to its vibrant appeal and feminine look.


The vibrant show of the fanned tail of the peacock is the result of integration of several hues and feathers. This symbolizes unity and royalty, so the peacock tattoo wearer should respect human values and should go harmoniously. A peacock tattoo is also an emblem of moral refinement, kindness, compassion, and love.



Chinese believed that a woman is blessed with a child if a peacock threw a glance at her. Also, a peacock tattoo is known to bring fortune to a pregnant woman with the arrival of her child. These beliefs made it a popular tattoo design among the ladies of China who aspire and reach pregnancy period. Peacock feather tattoos are the most popular among all the birds’ feather tattoos.


Peacock tattoo in hand
Peacock tattoo in hand | Source
Peacock tattoo in foot
Peacock tattoo in foot | Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size
PeacockPeahenPeacock courtshipPeachicksWhite peacockWhite peacock displaying its plumesWhite peahenBlue peacock and white peahen in Mysore zooPeacocks paintingPeacock artPeacock shrubbery
Peacock
Peacock | Source
Peahen
Peahen | Source
Peacock courtship
Peacock courtship | Source
Peachicks
Peachicks | Source
White peacock
White peacock | Source
White peacock displaying its plumes
White peacock displaying its plumes | Source
White peahen
White peahen | Source
Blue peacock and white peahen in Mysore zoo
Blue peacock and white peahen in Mysore zoo | Source
Peacocks painting
Peacocks painting | Source
Peacock art
Peacock art | Source
Peacock shrubbery
Peacock shrubbery | Source

A peacock displaying its plumage

Have you seen peacock dance somewhere?

See results

© 2012 Radhika Sreekanth

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      Atreyi kundu 5 months ago

      Wow wonderful I like

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      srishti mandal 2 years ago

      who ever has written this, he/she has a wonderful talent. WOW!!!!!!

    • radhikasree profile image
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      Radhika Sreekanth 4 years ago from Mumbai,India

      Thanks Mike Robbers for that wonderful comment. Peacocks have an interesting historical influence in all cultures. Thanks for the share too!

    • Mike Robbers profile image

      Mike Robbers 4 years ago from London

      A great hub about a beautiful bird! The history and symbolism of peacocks in ancient culture was very interesting and informative as were the pictures as well. Voted and pinned!

    • radhikasree profile image
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      Radhika Sreekanth 4 years ago from Mumbai,India

      Hi Kathryn Stratford,

      Very interesting to hear that you stayed near an aviary, hope you had wonderful days then. Yes, white peacocks have got a royal look and the peacock itself is a marvelous creation of God. Thanks for stopping by and for making such a nice comment.

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      Peacocks are beautiful, and this is an interesting article on them.

      Up until a few months ago, I lived across the street from a park that has an aviary, and they have several peacocks, including a couple of the white ones. They are stunning! I like seeing them strut their stuff.

      Thanks for sharing this with us.

    • radhikasree profile image
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      Radhika Sreekanth 5 years ago from Mumbai,India

      Hi sujithbeta,

      Thank you so much for such a great comment. White peacocks are produced only by selective breeding or mutation. So they can't be spotted like the common peacock.

    • radhikasree profile image
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      Radhika Sreekanth 5 years ago from Mumbai,India

      Thank you unknown spy for stopping by and leaving a comment.

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      Radhika Sreekanth 5 years ago from Mumbai,India

      HI ishwaryaa22,

      Thank you so much for the positive feedback. Peacocks are graceful birds that have their origin in India. Thanks for the votes, rates and share.

    • sujithbeta profile image

      Sreejith k 5 years ago from Kerala, India

      Brilliant writing about Peacock, the beautiful bird i have seen in my life. You have written everything about peacock. I have never seen a white peacock live unless in pictures.

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      Wow! i love the video!! i never seen a peacock before, personally. amazing.

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 5 years ago from Chennai, India

      An insightful & informative hub! Now I have learnt about the importance of peacocks in various other cultures besides Hinduism and Greco-Roman culture and symbolism of peacock tattoos thanks to you. An engaging and wonderfully explained hub with beautiful peacock photos! Well-done!

      Thanks for SHARING. Useful, Awesome & Interesting. Voted up, Socially Shared and pinned

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      Radhika Sreekanth 5 years ago from Mumbai,India

      Thanks IntegrityYes for reading and commenting another one. I'm so glad for the rates you've awarded me.

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      IntegrityYes 5 years ago

      WHOA! That is useful,awesome,beautiful,and interesting. I applaud you. I definitely voted up.

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      Radhika Sreekanth 5 years ago from Mumbai,India

      Thanks Millionaire Tips for stopping by and leaving a comment. Peacocks are indeed striking birds of colorful plumage.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      You've really done your research with so much information about the beautiful peacock. I can see how it becomes a part of so many different cultures because it is a striking bird.

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      Radhika Sreekanth 5 years ago from Mumbai,India

      Thanks Lesley for such a wonderful comment on this hub. Peacocks are attractive birds with several colors painted in their body. Thank you very much for the visit and votes. Take care and have a nice day!

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      What a beautiful and informative hub, I loved the peacock tattoo on the foot!

      The peacock opening it's feathers is a truly awesome sight.

      A fabulous well researched and well written hub, I loved it and voted up!

      Best wishes Lesley

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      Radhika Sreekanth 5 years ago from Mumbai,India

      Thanks sandrabusby for appreciating me. I'm glad that you found it to be beautiful and informative.

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      Radhika Sreekanth 5 years ago from Mumbai,India

      Thanks jennzie for commenting. Peacocks are indeed divine birds of extravagant plumage.

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      Radhika Sreekanth 5 years ago from Mumbai,India

      Thank you so much Angela!! Peacocks are lovely and innocent birds that are considered to be virtuous in many cultures. Thanks for sharing this hub socially.

    • sandrabusby profile image

      Sandra Busby 5 years ago from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

      Radhlkasree, what a beautiful and informative hub on such an exotic bird. Thanks for all your hard work.

    • jennzie profile image

      jennzie 5 years ago from Lower Bucks County, PA

      Wow I've never seen a white peacock before! Peacocks are very beautiful and amazing birds indeed.

      Very interesting hub, voted up.

    • Angela Brummer profile image

      Angela Brummer 5 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      I knew they were beautiful but didn't know of the what they represented to so many! I will share this on twitter, facebook, hub followers, and stumble upon!

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      Radhika Sreekanth 5 years ago from Mumbai,India

      Thanks anusujith for stopping by and leaving such a beautiful comment.

    • anusujith profile image

      Anoop Aravind A 5 years ago from Nilambur, Kerala, India

      white peacock, its so beautiful.beautiful hub,

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      Radhika Sreekanth 5 years ago from Mumbai,India

      @Sushma Webber

      You're so fortunate to see peacock's dance really. How could you see in Ranthambore? Is it any wild life conserve? Thanks for stopping by and quoting your experience.

    • Sushma Webber profile image

      Sushma Webber 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Great Hub. I had the chance to see the peacock dance just before the rains both in Tiruvannamalai and in Ranthambore, Rajasthan. Brought many fond memories back. Thanks for this well researched hub.

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      Radhika Sreekanth 5 years ago from Mumbai,India

      Thank you so much aviannovice!!

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      Radhika Sreekanth 5 years ago from Mumbai,India

      Hi trainerlex,

      Thanks for the compliment.

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      Radhika Sreekanth 5 years ago from Mumbai,India

      Thanks rebeccamealey for the comment. I'm glad that you liked this hub on peacocks.

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      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I enjoyed this information on the peacock. Thank you. Voted awesome and up.

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      Lex 5 years ago from Denver, CO

      Very thorough and interesting hub. =)

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 5 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Peacocks are fascinating birds, right up there with the swan in beauty. I like the way you showed how people highly regard the feathers and even get tattoos that look like them