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Feng Huang Birds

Feng and huang are mythological Chinese birds that reign over all other birds. The males are called Feng and the females Huang.
In modern times, however, such a distinction of gender is often no
longer made and the Feng and Huang are blurred into a single feminine
entity so that the bird can be paired with the Chinese dragon, which has
male connotations. The Fenghuang is also called the "August Rooster"
since it sometimes takes the place of the Rooster in the Chinese Zodiac.
In the West, it is commonly referred to as the Chinese Phoenix.
of an ancient bird have appeared in China for over 7,000 years, the
earliest as Shang Dynasty pottery motifs, then appearing decorating
bronzes, as well as jade figurines (many of the most beautiful from the
Liao Period). Some believe they may have been a good-luck totem,
believing that it is a totem of eastern tribes in ancient China. Current
theories suggest that it is likely based in part - for example the
snake-like neck - on folk memory of the Asian Ostrich which was common
in prehistoric China but became extinct several thousand years ago. That
this bird was well-known to the early modern humans in Asia, noted for
its peculiarity, and hunted for food, is attested by numerous
archaeological finds, such as pottery decorated with what appear to be
painted ostriches, and bones by early campsites.

seems to have no connection with the phoenix of the Western world, which
derives from Egyptian mythology. Peculiarly, the "Western" (actually:
Ancient Egyptian) Phoenix may also in part reference a prehistoric bird,
the Bennu Heron. Unlike the Fenghuang, which is a chimera not very much
like any actual bird (though elements of a cock and a curisorial
groundbird probably best interpreted as an ostrich are recognizable)

the Egyptian phoenix was a rather conventional animal most often
considered similar to a heron or eagle which "merely" had a supernatural

During the Han Dynasty (2,200 years ago) two
phoenixes, one a male (feng, 鳳) and the other a female (huang, 凰) were
often shown together facing one other. Later, during the Yuan Dynasty
the two terms were merged to become the generally translated "phoenix",
but the "King of Birds" came to symbolize the Empress when paired with a
dragon as a dragon represented the Emperor. From the period of the
Emperor Jiajing (1522-66) on, a pair of phoenixes was differentiated by
the tail feathers of the two birds (typically together forming a closed
circle pattern--the male identified by five serrated tail feathers (five
being an odd, or yang number) and the female by what appears to be one,
but is in fact, two (two being an even, or yin number) curling or
tendriled tail feathers. It was also in the Ming Dynasty that phoenixes
first began to appear with combs, hence comb-less phoenixes are
pre-Ming, and phoenixes depicted with combs, Ming or post-Ming.

phoenix represented power sent from the heavens to the Empress. If a
phoenix was used to decorate a house it symbolized that loyalty and
honesty were in the people that lived there. Or alternatively, phoenix
only stays when the ruler is without darkness and corruption.

Fenghuang has very positive connotations. It is a symbol of high virtue
and grace. The Fenghuang also symbolizes the union of yin and yang. It
appears in peaceful and prosperous times but hides when trouble is near.

..But magic has a habit of lying low,
like a rake in the

~Terry Pratchett~

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