Peacocks feature in Indian furniture and art.
The peacock is the national bird of India. No wonder, it's dramatic beauty, unexpected size and raucous call easily take you by surprise and reinforce - if that were ever needed - that you are indeed in India. Walking through a village at dawn, a tree full of peacocks comes as quite a shock - they seem to be too large to be perched on a branch above your head.
So it's no surprise that peacocks feature in Indian art and also as a carved decorative flourish in Indian wooden furniture, especially in Rajasthan where their stately demeanour seems to echo that of the flamboyantly turbanned Rajput men.
This guest house wall in Jhunjhunu was covered in sequinned and mirror work animals including these peacocks. Look closely and you'll see the coloured "eye" in the tail feathers.
There are peacocks in this Pithora painting from Gujarat although on this occasion the tail feathers are rather straggly, maybe in Gujarat the peacock isn't regarded so highly - or maybe it's just the style of the artist! There's no sense of proportion or perspective in this painting, as is usually the case with Indian folk art, but I still get a sense of the affection the artist had for all the aspects of village life.
The next two images of spactacular peacocks are from our collection of Indian Warli folk art paintings. In the first painting a person seems to be riding on the back of the peacock!
Peacocks are not just found in the deserts of Rajasthan and Gujarat, the Warli people who live in the hill forests of central India paint magnificent peacocks like the example above of a peacock at the top of a tree and, below, this fully blown painting of a magnificent peacock displaying his feathers.
The Peacock Throne is a remarkable book by Suji Saraf which chronicles the lives of men and women living a challenging life in old Delhi. It's a tough read as you get an insight into people's lives in the bazaars around Chandi Chowk. The actual Peacock Throne, one of the finest achievements of Moghul art, was commissioned in the 17th century by Shah Jahan and installed in the Delhi's Red Fort. As you may imagine it was covered in gold and precious stones, decorative peacock designs and cost more than the Taj Mahal. A hundred years later it was carried away to Persia as war booty and subsequently lost.
Although we don't have a peacock throne at the Silk Road Gallery we did have a magnificent carved wooden Lion throne with two peacocks forming the back rest.
This Carved Peacock Wall Panel was probably once part of the headboard panel of a four poster bed. I love the smooth wood, the soft sensuous carving and the fruit that the peacocks are holding in their beaks - though having said that, they're mostly seen pecking at the ground looking for small insects.
The top of this large wooden peacock mirror carved from a dark wood features two magnificent peacocks - yet again we see that two peacocks are represented facing each other.
And for Indian outdoor furniture - though not for humans - here's a lovely bird table with a peacock design in Gujarat.