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Birds of Paradise, Doves, Thistlefinches and Peacocks
Paint a Serving Tray
by jantje blokhuis-mulder

Tree of Life Serving Tray featuring Birds of Paradise Learn How to Paint Your Own

As the tulips pushed their way out of the ground, early in the spring, my late Grandmother would make the rounds to all the different kinds of bird houses she had positioned all over her large back yard. Making sure they were all ship shape, she would say, "Maybe this will be the year that the bird of paradise will come and build a nest here." As children, we believed that such a miracle could happen. We - her grandchildren - had absolutely no doubt that if the bird of paradise came, it would surely land in our Grandma's yard. "What does it look like?" we would ask. She would stare at the sky and wait for several seconds. Then, a twinkle would appear in her eye. She would look down and tell us that it was only the most colorful, most exotic bird ever created and we would all know it when it arrived.

Several times over the years, whenever a new colorful bird appeared in that big back yard, we all believed that the bird of paradise had nested behind our Grandma's house.

The truth is, that the most elaborately brilliantly colored birds on earth referred to as the birds of paradise, live in New Guinea and would never, ever be seen in the Netherlands. Unless of course they were painted on a pair of wooden shoes, or perhaps an old trunk ...

In addition to birds of paradise, the following flying creatures are the ones most often used in folk art creations.

  • The Dove represents a symbol of love and fidelity. With an olive branch the dove represents peace and good news.

  • The Peacock is often painted looking backwards at his tail. This was (and is) believed to imply renewal, since the tail feathers are renewed every year.

  • The Thistlefinch (called distelfink by early immigrant folk painters in Pennsylvania) often appeared in paintings on barns. The distelfink was believed to be a symbol of good luck because it ate the seeds of the thistle which is an unwanted weed on farms.
In folk art designs, doves, parrots and peacocks were often paired and used as focal points in Tree of Life patterns. You can see this folk art motif used repeatedly in various cultures world wide.

Let's have some fun and create a serving tray with a Tree of Life motif, complete with Birds of Paradise painted in the Dutch Hindeloopen style.

Next Page > Paint your own tree of life serving tray >Page 1, 2

Resources:

Text Jantje Blokhuis-Mulder; Photos Andrea Mulder-Slater

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