F Is For: Fèng Huáng
Name: Fèng Huáng / Hō-ō
Type: Mythical Bird
The background of this bird has changed a bit since it was first found. Originally the males would be called Feng, and the females Huang. In modern times the bird is said to only be female combining both names to Fenghuang. This change was made so that the bird could compliment the Dragon which is a masculine symbol. The birds appearance has also changed over time.
Fenghuang started as: “According to scripture Erya – chapter 17 Shiniao, Fenghuang is said to be made up of the beak of a rooster, the face of a swallow, the forehead of a fowl, the neck of a snake, the breast of a goose, the back of a tortoise, the hindquarters of a stag and the tail of a fish.” As you can tell by the picture, it was changed to have entirely bird-related parts. Now it is composed of ” head of a golden pheasant, the body of a mandarin duck, the tail of a peacock, the legs of a crane, the mouth of a parrot, and the wings of a swallow.”
Fenghuang is comparable to the Western Phoenix but is unrelated. It only appears in places of great peace, and devours snakes. The colors of its feathers come in black, white, red, blue and yellow. These each represent one of the virtues of Confucius. The bird itself is said to be a representation of Yin and Yang combined, just like the Dragon and Fenghuang. The Dragon and Fenghuang are often found at weddings because of their meanings.