Thursday, April 06, 2006

Kingfisher blue

"...many beauties take the air by the Ch'ang waterfront...
their embroidered silk robes in the spring sun are gleaming...
and hanging far down from their temples
are blue leaves of delicate kingfisher feathers..."

- A Song of Fair Women by Tu Fu, 712-770

Improbably blue: kingfisher feathers.

Only nature would fathom a blue so decadent. And what God/nature/evolutionary-who-knows gave the the Kingfisher, the Chinese artisan claimed for our species.

Specifically, they made hairpins for which the ladies of the Chinese court developed a weakness.

"Their hairstyles were especially ornate...Women embellished their chignons with flowers and small plaques and these, together with hairpins, made for striking coiffures..." (from Chinese Art and Design)

Whalebone corsettes didn't extinguish the whales and there are still scattered, unplucked kingfishers to be found. But, fashion laid low the species via the flocks that, for a few beautiful centuries, adorned magnificent hair-dos.

C - to whims of fashion, and nature's bright and tempting.

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