peng series

Manifestation of Peng [1987-1988]

Peng is a legendary bird which appears many times in classical Chinese literature that also has parallels in Western fables.

One of the fables about Peng was written by the famed writer and philosopher, Chuang Chou (320 B.C.), in his book of Chuang Tse (or Juang Tse). He told the story of the gigantic fish Kuan that became a big bird in the Northern Sea. When it took flight to the southern end of the world, its wings covered half of the sky and created immense tidal waves at sea. It flew atop the clouds, eventually becoming part of the universe, thereby immortalized and freed of the manifest world.

The Chinese character of Peng originated from the word Phoenix (fung). The Phoenix, being the king of birds, was always followed by thousands and thousands of birds when in flight. The character is often used to indicate friendship and the formation of groups. The classical pronunciation of the big bird was the same as Fung. Some scholars believed that Chuang Chow was telling the story of the Phoenix.


The European equivalent of this legendary Peng may be the bird named Rukh (ROC listed in the Encyclopedia Brittannica) which was a bird large enough to carry off elephants with its claws. Marco Polo referred to it in describing Madagascar and other islands off the East African Coast; Sinbad the sailor also saw the bird in action in the story of the Thousand One Nights.

It is the mythical quality of Peng that inspired me to paint this series of creations. The series consists of eight topics:

Bird of the South, Phoenix Descending, Flight To Eternity, Light of Heaven, Darkness Approaching, Nocturne, Rain, Lightening.

See gallery below for some of the images.