[Heb., tuk·ki·yimʹ (plural)].
The term “peacock” properly applies to the brilliantly colored male of the peafowl. It is a large bird of the pheasant family, about the size of a turkey. The peacock is particularly noted for its magnificent train of iridescent green and gold feathers marked with large “eyespots” of blue. The train can be spread at will to form an impressive semicircular screen or fan touching the ground on either side. The peacock shakes the fanned train, producing a rustling sound and causing the feathers to shimmer with their iridescent hues. The neck and breast are also of a beautiful metallic greenish-blue color. Due to its majestic beauty the bird was greatly prized from ancient times.
In King Solomon’s time the triannual voyages of his fleet of ships of Tarshish brought cargoes of “gold and silver, ivory, and apes and peacocks.” (1 Ki. 10:22) While certain of Solomon’s ships made trips to Ophir (evidently in the Red Sea area; 1 Ki. 9:26-28), 2 Chronicles 9:21 mentions ships “going to Tarshish” (likely in Spain) in connection with the carrying of the above commodities, including peacocks. It is not certain, therefore, from what place or area the peacocks were imported. These beautiful birds are held to be native of SE Asia and are abundant in India and Ceylon. Some believe that the Hebrew name (tuk·ki·yimʹ) is to be connected with the Old Tamil name for the peacock, tokei. The peacocks obtained by Solomon’s fleet could have been obtained, of course, along their usual route at some trading center having contacts with India. Of interest, also, is the statement in The Animal Kingdom (1954; Frederick Drimmer, M.A., Editor, Vol. II, p. 988): “For centuries scientists assumed that there were no peacocks in Africa—their known dwelling places were the East Indies and southeastern Asia. The belief of the naturalists was shattered in 1936, when the Congo peacock was discovered in the Belgian Congo.”
The peacock apparently reached Greece at least by the fifth century B.C.E. and is said to have been bred on the island of Samos off the coast of Asia Minor. The Greek poet Aristophanes spoke of “Persian Peacocks” and some suggest that the bird reached Greece from India by way of Persia.