1 Kings 10:22 (ESV)
22 For the king had a fleet of ships of Tarshish at sea with the fleet of Hiram. Once every three years the fleet of ships of Tarshish used to come bringing gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks.
Yes, peacocks are mentioned in the Bible. The context of this passage in 1 Kings is the description of Solomon’s wealth. But peacocks are more than beautiful, exotic-looking birds. In Christian symbolism, they represent immortality. Legend has that the flesh of the peacock doesn’t decay after death. The legend goes back to the early Christian church and likely originated in ancient Greece.
Painters, particularly in the early Renaissance, added peacocks into their Christian works for their symbolic purpose. Both Fra Angelico and Sandro Botticelli created tondi entitled: The Adoration of the Magi. These two circular compositions show Mary, Joseph, and the Christ child as one would expect. However, included prominently in the compositions is a larger than life peacock. The peacock symbolically affirms the attributes of the Christ child.
Yes, in the image above, those are stylized doves (yellow to red) inside the feathers. The hearts (blue to green), which may be easier to see, are inside the dove’s wings.
Peacock – Immortality.
Heart – Again, the hearts are embedded in the peacock’s feathers. In Christian symbolism, the heart is the source of understanding and love. God looks at our hearts.
As Christ says, he who has ears to hear, let him hear. We listen to Christ so that our hearts may become more like his.
Dove – The doves are embedded in the peacock’s feathers as well.
Again, the dove is the Christian symbol for the Holy Spirit. The reference came from the baptism of Jesus when the Spirit descended from heaven like a dove.
The Adoration of the Magi Tondi
Fra Angelico and Sandro Botticelli’s tondi are shown below.
The Christian Mandalas devotional coloring journal containing this drawing page may be found here: