3592 – Peacock feather fan belonging to Julia Pearce

Physical description:
A round fan made from peacock feathers, with a handle made of straw folded around a wooden core and bound with grey-blue thread, and with an apple-green ribbon tied round it. Handmade, very probably by Julia Pearce herself.
Museum classification:
Modern Witchcraft
390 x 300 x 20

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. One of the old signs created by Cecil Williamson for the Museum (now on display in the museum library) uses the phrase "peacock's eye" as a form of curse.

The peacock is also considered sacred in India and China. 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 pendant, 3591.

Peacock feather, straw, wood, fabric