3591 – Peacock pendant belonging to Julia Pearce

Physical description:
Faux ivory teardrop-shaped pendant decorated with a picture of two peacocks. With a long golden-metal chain.
Museum classification:
Modern Witchcraft
50 x 25 x 15

Part of a collection of jewellery that belonged to Julia Pearce.

The peacock is sacred to the Goddess Hera/Juno, whose chariot is drawn by peacocks. According to Graeco-Roman mythology, Hera created the peacock and incorporated the hundred eyes of her watchman, the Giant Argos, into the bird's tail after he had been killed by Hermes. The peacock's tail also symbolised the heavens, with the 'eyes' representing the stars.

In medieval Christian iconography the peacock was a symbol of resurrection, and therefore of Christ, However, in Britain in the early/mid 20th century it was considered very unlucky to have peacock feathers in the house. This seems to have been based on an association of the 'eyes' on the feathers with the Evil Eye, although normally naturally occurring eye shapes are thought to protect against the Evil Eye.

The peacock is also considered sacred in India and China. A visitor to the Museum showed us photographs she took during a visit to Southern India of chalk pictures made on the ground outside shops and houses, which included one of a peacock. These pictures are invariably made by women, using powdered chalk that produces very vivid colours. They usually feature birds and/or flowers, and are thought to bring good fortune and prosperity to the businesses and homes they are outside.

In the Hindu religion a peacock's feather is one of the symbols of Lord Krishna, who wears one in his crown.

See also the peacock feather fan, 3592.

Polycarbonate, metal