The peacock and the dove
Peafowl are the most beautiful and elegant pheasants in the world. They have figured prominently in the lives of men even before the Phoenicians brought them from India to the Pharaohs of Egypt. They have been famous in the ancient art, literature, poetry, religions, legends and superstitions of the Far East for tens of centuries and also later in the culture of the ancient western Civilizations. The peafowl were fairly well known to the Greeks, and mention of this beautiful and mysterious fowl can be found in early Greek Mythology. They then became well known throughout the Mediterranean countries and even in England, France and Germany as early as the 14th Century. The Romans appreciated Peafowl both for their beauty and their flesh, and they were being reared for these purposes throughout most of the days of the Roman Empire. (1) In the wild (India & Ceylon) there exists besides the blue form pavo cristatus, a green form pavo muticus as well as in modern times various sports and hybrids.
The Peacock symbolizes the incorruptibility of Christ because, according to an ancient belief codified by Isidore, its flesh is so hard that it does not putrefy. (2) St. Augustine of Hippo put this belief to the test. Roast peacock was served at dinner in Carthage, and he ordered the meat from the breast to be put aside. After thirty days, he found that there was no bad smell. After a year, the peacock's flesh had become only a little desiccated. Peacocks were used widely in different media in early Christian art. In parallel to their use in the book of Kells, they were employed in contorted shapes to form letters in seventh and eighth-century manuscripts. The often stylised imagery of peacock, chalice, and vines appear on many pages, including the canon tables. Many examples of decoration within the book of Kells for example, emphasize that the programme of decoration generally served a symbolic rather than an illustrative purpose. Figures like the lion, snake, and eagle were often used but no other animal or bird life figured into Theological or Mythological artistry as often as the symbol of the dove and as well as the 'king of the birds' - the Peacock.
1. Pheasant Standards (George A. Allen, Jr.)
2. Isodori Hispalensis Episcopi Etymologiarum sive Originum, ed W.M.
Lindsay, 2 vol 2 lib XII. Vii.48.
3. The Book of Kells
A Brief History of Hand-Hooked Rugs
The art of rug hooking is centuries old, although just how old is debatable. Theories abound regarding when and where the craft actually started. Some historians believe that descendants of the ancient Egyptians made the first hand-hooked rugs between the third and seventh centuries. Others maintain that rug hooking originated in China or Europe.
We do know for certain, however, that rug hooking experienced a major resurgence of interest in the mid-nineteenth century in New England and the Maritime Provinces of Canada. Born initially out of necessity, hand-hooked rugs were created by rural women to cover the bare floors of their homes. Later, people began selling hand-hooked rugs, and cottage industries eventually sprang up across the continent. By the 1940's, rug hooking had become a well-established hobby in the United States and Canada. It has evolved into a popular means of folk art and one of personal expression as well as a practical pastime. Hand-hooked rugs can be found on the walls of art galleries from New York City and Washington, DC, to Tokyo and London, as well as in museums, office buildings, libraries, and cultural centers across North America.
Traditional hooking uses a hand hook, similar in shape to a crochet hook, to form a looped pile from fabric strips or yarn on an even-weave base (such as burlap, monks-cloth, divider cloth, or linen). Traditional rug hooking is NOT latch-hooking (which forms a knotted pile from short pieces of yard, using a very different hand hook).