The Peacock Princess

 

Xishuangbanna, a region far south in the southern province of Yunnan, is home to the Dai people.

The Dai people have a legend about their ancestors. One day, the Prince of the Dai was visiting a lake, and he saw seven peacocks fly down. At the lakeside, the peacocks turned into young women. Fascinated, the prince waited for them to return. As they took of their mantle – feathers on their head – they turned into the women and went bathing.

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The prince stole the youngest swan’s mantle, and when the others turned back into birds, she stayed human. The prince married her, and she became known as Princess Peacock.

Nearby kingdoms were jealous of the Dai’s riches and wars broke out. The prince was far away fighting. Some people blamed the Princess Peacock and called for her death.

Peacocks at Xishuangbanna

The peacock woman asked the king to perform a dance to ensure the safe return of the prince. Taking her feather mantle, she started dancing and transformed back into a peacock and flew away.

The Dai people worship peacocks as being messengers of peace, kindness, love and beauty.

The story of the seven heavenly peacocks is reminiscent of other myths regarding the constellation Cygnus.

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White Peacock, Xishuangbanna