Peacocks have not always borne the beautiful feathers for which they are renowned. Neither has the Crow always worn a splendid blue-black coat.
According to an ancient Chinese fable, one day the two friends were resting by a river when Lord Tiger arrived to invite them to his wedding.
“I am embarrassed to go to the feast looking so plain,” admitted Peacock.
“I have an idea,” said the ever-clever Crow. “Look there at the palace being built for the King. The workmen are painting it. Let’s sneak over and decorate ourselves with the pots of paint.”
Crow took hold of a paintbrush and quickly painted Peacock’s long train. He added in shining dragons’ eyes as well. Peacock proudly stretched out his new feathers to dry, spreading them so he could see their reflection in the river. He felt so magnificent in his new outfit that he immediately strutted off to the wedding without even a backwards glance at his friend Crow. Crow, flustered and not wanting to be left out of the festivities, jumped into the first can of paint he saw – alas, black – and ran to catch up with Peacock.
The two birds kept their new colors and have been squabbling about that day ever since in the screechy, raucous voices for which they are known.
Cute story, eh? If you want to read more about peacocks, here is some fascinating information about the bird that apparently most closely resembles the legendary phoenix, and the true story as to how peacocks became the “totem” for the Academy of Ancient Reflexology.