Friday, October 2, 2009


Cenderawasih is the Indonesian word for the bird of paradise. The Raggiana bird of paradise (Paradisaea raggiana) is the national bird of New Guinea.

Because they have such rare and beautiful plumage, birds of paradise have been hunted for centuries, and their feathers used for decoration and their supposed mystical properties.

Legends have it that the birds were the birds of the gods and never touched earth, feeding only on dew.

This legend accentuated the value of the birds for over 100 years, and the feathers were in such high demand that it almost brought it to extinction.

Cenderawsih is only found on the island of New Guinea. The males are known to gather in a specific tree together in the morning and will engage in mutual display, where they fluff out their extensive colourful feathers to try and attract a female.

They live in the tops of trees and in the underbrush, making nests in tree branches and holes.

A friend of mine is a great believer of this legend. According to him the bird is from heaven. Even in a stuffed bird, the feathers will regrow if they were pulled out!

There are four stuffed Cenderawasih in his house which I visited recently. He even claimed and showed me the supposed bird's egg. The egg glowed and emitted radiant red light when soaked in a glass of water.

I did not know what to believe. The glowing red light did not look real to me. It was like an electric bulb..but why it glowed like that?

To me, Cenderawasih is just a bird, a very beautiful and interesting bird at that. Once I saw a documentary showing the bird in courtship display and suddenly a wild cat coming out of nowhere, jumped in and killed it! What a pity...but that was what life in the jungle was all about.

What about you? Do you believe that the bird has magical powers? I don't.


Martin Lee said...

I am always fascinated by birds! I am particularly interested in the hummingbirds which we do not get to see in Malaysia

For the Chinese, Phoenix is the legendary bird of paradize. Pictures of which were popularly displayed in royal attire, wedding decoration etc. It symbolises majesty and prosperity, it usually goes together with the peony flowers!

azahar said...

But, we have the Jewels of the forest...they are sure very beautiful little birds that not many Malaysians appreciate...I simply love to see them hopping from a twig to another on my mother's busily fruiting cherry trees...

Martin Lee said...

How do the Jewels of the forest look like? I had searched through the internet but did not get any photo of these birds?