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Distributed for Reaktion Books


Breathtakingly beautiful and exotic, the peacock inspires devotion among both artists and bird lovers. Its iridescent plumage, when fully displayed, is a delight to behold. 

The bird itself, as Christine E. Jackson notes in Peacock, appears to enjoy its audience, preening and strutting about within a few feet of humans. It is not surprising, then, that these vain birds and their distinctive feathers have been the prized possessions of kings for nearly three thousand years. Jackson here explores the peacock’s beauty—and its apparent attitude—through fairy tales, fables, and superstitions in both Eastern and Western cultures. Peacock takes stock of the bird as it appears within art, from the earliest mosaics to medieval illuminated manuscripts to modern graphics, with a special emphasis on the peacock’s symbolic value in the nineteenth-century arts and crafts and art nouveau movements. Jackson further details the peacock’s colorful presence in hats, clothing, and even sports equipment. 

A sweeping combination of social and natural history, Peacock is the first book to bring together all the shimmering, colorful facets of these magnificent birds.

  Click here for a special, limited-time offer for the entire Animal series.

224 pages | 80 color plates, 78 halftones | 5 3/8 x 7 1/2 | © 2006


Biological Sciences: Ecology, Natural History

Culture Studies

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"Part of Reaktion’s compact and bijou (and lavishly illustrated) ’Animal’ series, Jackson’s volume glides through the social and natural history of this most royal and untouchable of birds with maximum elegance and minimum fuss."

The Guardian

"The latest addition to Reaktion’s excellent Animal series. . . . Winging around the globe, Jackson explores the bird’s remarkable associations, from Persia to Whistler."

The Independent

Table of Contents

1. Natural History
2. Unnatural History
3. The Blue Indian Peacock at Home
4. The Blue Indian Peacock Goes West
5. The Green Peacock in the East
6. Artefacts and Architecture
Associations and Websites
Photo Acknowledgements

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