Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Red Jungle fowls
Red Junglefowls to the Hmong
For the Hmong, the red junglefowl is a symbol of peace, harmony, and freedom. It represents their past experiences living in their homelands of the mountainous regions of Southeast Asia and surviving off the fat of the land. Similarly to the Hmong, red junglefowls live freely and roam effortlessly through the jungles. During late winter, spring, and early summer months, the crow of the red junglefowls could often be heard echoing through the jungles and thick bamboo groves while the Hmong carried about their daily lives.
Red Jungle Fowls As Song Birds
Now torn away from their homelands, many Hmong are drawn to the red junglefowl for its crows. The crow of red junglefowls have reminiscent qualities of the old times and are a nostalgic reminder of how and where they once lived and of memories of past family members that may not have escaped the war burdened countries.
Red Junglefowls As Companions
Analogous to the dog being the Western man's best friend, in Southeast Asia, a red jungle fowl is a Hmong man's best friend. Legions of Hmong men identify with these birds as virtually all Hmong males of appropriate age hunted wild red junglefowls with domesticated junglefowl decoys called "qaib dib" or "call birds." These chosen "qaib dib" were hand-picked for their crowing abilities based on their rhythm, pitch, timbre, and note lengths being similar to the wild birds. "Qaib dib" were tamed via countless hours of hand held attention and being carried in cylindrical carriers woven from bamboo, taught to stay on on branches and not fly off, and trained to crow on their owner's cue. Once trained, "qaib dib" were carried into the jungles and used to lure territorial wild red junglefowls out during breeding seasons. Additionally, the crows of the "qaib dib" were used to entice large game animals out of hiding as the crow of a wild red junglefowl was seen as a signal that the jungle was free of dangers.
The art of training one's bird was and is still passed down from generation to generation in the Hmong culture. Children as young as toddlers are still seen carrying their "qaib dib" and practicing to one day be a master red junglefowl hunter. To the Hmong, junglefowls not only served as a valuable source of much needed protein when the times were tough, but they were also seen as a companion as their calls were literally and figuratively viewed as a sign of tranquility.