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What does a peacock feather symbolize?

Updated February 21, 2017

Peacocks are a deeply symbolic bird, and as such their feathers have become steeped in meaning. The precise meaning often depends on the culture and the context the feather appears in.

Generalities: Negative

Peacocks are often regarded as vain and foolish birds, and their presence symbolises indulgent decadence. Their feathers are thus often a sign of vanity, as well as bacchanalian excess.

Generalities: Positive

Peacock feathers represent pride, and by extension, nobility and glory. Peacocks are also known to eat poisonous plants with no ill effects, making their feathers a symbol of incorruptibility and immortality.

Ancient Greek Meanings

In ancient Greece, the peacock was the patron bird of the goddess Hera. According to myth, she placed "eyes" on its feathers, symbolising all-seeing knowledge and the wisdom of the heavens.

Hindu Meanings

Hindu mythology associates peacocks with the god Lakshmi. The feathers thus represent his qualities: kindness, patience and good fortune.

Buddhist Meanings

Buddhists associate peacock feathers with openness, since the birds display everything when they spread their tails. Buddhists also ascribe great meaning to the bird's diet of poisonous plants--the ability to thrive in the face of suffering.

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