Hypnotized by Feathers: Our love for the peacock as home and garden décor

Our love of peacocks as home decor

“The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most.” 
–John Ruskin

We’ve all heard the phrase “proud as a peacock” but these colorful birds are only displaying what nature has granted them. The males’ stunning jewel-toned feathers have long been admired in legend, myth and lore.

The peacock is the oldest ornamental bird in the world, used throughout history by artists in their designs including many Design Toscano artisans. Our extensive Peacock collection ranges from flower bud vases, to grand stained glass windows and sculptural furniture, including the newest original, the Provocative Peacock Sculptural Garden Table (JQ9453) with a brilliant peacock resting against a faux wood log.

Peacocks throughout History

Peacocks have been a symbol of wealth, beauty and rebirth since ancient times. In India, where blue peacocks originate from, they are the national bird and a symbol of royalty and power. Imagine all those movies or paintings you’ve seen of servants fanning their rulers with long peacock feathers.

In Hinduism, the Mayura (Sanskrit for peacock) is identified with Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, so it is believed that keeping peacock feathers in the house brings good luck and prosperity.

In Babylon and Persia peacocks were placed in the garden as guardians of royalty. Recreate this tradition with Toscano’s beautiful Regal Peacock Sculptural Garden Statue (DB383117 & DB20191) to help guard your own home.

Peacocks were unknown to the Greeks before the conquests of Alexander. It was said the “eyes” of the peacock tail feathers were the all-seeing eyes of Hera, a myth which continued on into Christianity.

Because peacocks lose their feathers and grow them back every year, St. Augustine associated peacocks with Christ’s resurrection. Early on Christianity and the all-seeing church used peacock feathers as a symbol of renewal, rebirth and transformation.

In the Netherlands, since the 1400s the Duke of Gueire charged the feudal lord to run his estate – Staverden Castle – as long as he continued to raise white (most likely leucistic) peacocks to provide feathers for his tournament helmet. Now a national site where beautiful weddings are held, you will still find white peacocks on the grounds today. To observe this tradition, Design Toscano offers the Staverden Castle Peacock on an Urn garden sculpture (KY1876 & NE180180) in an antique stone finish to mimic those gleaming white feathers.

In Italy, 14th century Venetian masquerades began with dances where the participants wore papier mâché and feather masks. With the discovery of peacocks, the colorful plumage was added to the more elaborately decorated masks. We continue this tradition to this day with decorative carnival mask wall décor such as the Peacock Mask of Venice Wall Sculpture (WU74139) and the Mardi Gras Peacock Princess Mask (WU75073).

In Europe, the Art Nouveau movement, an international style consisting of art, architecture, graphic and decorative arts, reached the height of popularity in 1890-1910. One of the most prevalent motifs used was peacocks and peacock feathers in wall ornaments and figurines. Toscano offers a wide range of wall décor, decorative urns, and functional art such as the sophisticated Tiffany-style Art Nouveau Peacock Stained Glass Lamps (TF10015, TF10016) that echo an earlier age.

Most prevalent during the Art Deco period—established in Paris and spread worldwide by the 1930s—artists borrowed from nature using simple modern geometric forms combined with animals and figures. Influenced by the Art Deco movement artists added meaning and beauty in everyday items, such as the Art Deco Peacock Sculptural Floor and Table Lamps (KY8012, KY7487) offered by Toscano.

“Be like a peacock and dance with all of your beauty.”
—Debasish Mridha

Modern Day Peacocks

Some time ago while working as a party planner, I handled an event at an upscale farm a few hour’s drive from Chicago in downstate Illinois. When I arrived with an assistant and a truck full of flowers and plants, we parked in a graveled courtyard not far from a traditional red barn which was being used to hold the event. Walking across the yard with arms loaded, I was startled to hear a loud cry and looked down to discover colorful peacocks and flamboyant chickens wandering around inquisitively by my feet. This was a first for me, and the closest I’d ever been to such beautiful and exotic birds. I was told by the staff that these particular birds were friendly and used to people, one even ate out of my hand! Since then I too have considered peacocks and their feathers to be good luck.

7 Fascinating Facts About Peacocks:

  1. Collectively these birds are called Peafowl; the males are referred to as peacocks, the females called peahens and the babies, peachicks.
  2. There are two species of Peafowl which are both members of the pheasant family: the blue Indian peafowl and the green Asian peafowl
  3. The green peacock’s tail feathers can grow up to 6 feet long, or 60% of its total length, and still fly!
  4. Peahens are smaller and generally duller in color; some with green necks while the wings and tail are shades of gray, brown, tan and cream.
  5. Males spread their sweeping “train” of tail feathers like a fan in a wonderful iridescent shades of greens, blues, and purples that catch and reflect the sunlight. There are about 200 feathers in this tail which they shed annually during molting season.
  6. Peafowl are long lived, heathy peacocks in the wild live about 20 years and in captivity they can live 40 – 50 years!
  7. Peacocks have a very loud call or “crow” which can startle people (like certain party planners) who aren’t used to it.

Today peacocks are more popular than ever. Peacock-themed weddings have become fashionable in the last few years; one of Toscano’s customers even used the Peacock’s Sanctuary Statue (KY1088) as a table centerpiece instead of flowers.

If you need a mood lifter, add more vibrancy to your home; peacock and peacock feathered décor items, like the magnificent, nearly four-foot high Peacock and Wisteria Stained-Glass Window (TF10022) or the lovely Peacocks Perch Sculptural Glass-Topped Pedestal Table (KY625) will add life to your décor.

Posted by Sue Mell