Owl Myth and Lore What people think of owls around the world... Owls in Chinese Culture In Chinese culture, owls are seen as a connection to death, even though owl, called mao-tou-ying (cat-headed hawk) and xiao (bravery) in Chinese suggests a positive viewing. However, the owl being a nocturnal bird, it is seen as representing mystery, mysticism, secrets, intelligence, and death. The sound that an owl makes, the hu, in Chinese means digging , which associates the owl more to the meaning of death, or below the ground or as the Greeks call it, the underworld. Owl figurines were also found in the burial cermaics of the Han Dynasty. “When an owl is seen around a house, dried bushes are burned to keep the owl away because of the smell. Also, people put brooms upside down, outside the house to protect the house and the household from the owls as it’s believed that the owls have spiritual powers that could lead to supernatural consequences. That’s why it’s never preferred to attempt to kill or even touch the owl. Another reason to stay away from the owls is the belief that they snatch away the souls. Despite the fear of the owls, in some parts of China, they are associated with the gods of thunder and lightning and therefore, owl effigies are put on top of the roofs for protection.” info and quote taked from full article by: (Inci Yilmazli, bellaonline.com) Replica of Chinese Owl bronze, 1st Dibs.com
Owls as Icons of Conservation Information taken from The Roost vol. 21 The ORI’s Research on Owls As stated in previous newsletters, our lecture series, and published papers - owls are iconic. There is perhaps no other group of animals in the world that is so widely recognized, admired by a vast majority of people, and generates so much interest, as owls. Owls occur on all continents and habitats except Antarctica. Perhaps the oldest bird art known is of owls etched out of cave walls, dated to the Paleolithic Period (12,000-30,000 years ago). From cave etchings to verbal history, owl stories have been passed on through generations in numerous cultures. They have been depicted on Greek coins dating to 400 BC. Owls are mentioned in stories by Aristotle and Pliny. They are represented in art as paintings, pottery and sculptures. Owls occur in paintings by Durer, Michaelangelo and Picasso. They are represented in fancies and poems such as The Owl and The Pussy Cat, fables, myths and stories. Countless trinkets of bone, ivory, soapstone and wood idealize owls throughout the world. In present times, owls have occurred on Canadian 50 dollar bills, become sport (Temple University Owls) corporate (White Owl Cigars) and advertising (Trip Advisor) logos, and even movie stars (Hedwig in Harry Potter). Owls are consistantly used in product advertising (beer and wine) and sales pitches (wise old owl). Owls gather out attention, perhaps like no other group of animals in the world, and they do it consistantly. Whatever the reason, people feel emotion when observing owls. The ORI proposes using owls as the poster animals for conservation. For example, owls as a group, or a specific species can be used to help conserve local habitat; act as indicators of envirnmental health; bring awareness to conservation issues, and consequently act as advocates for wildlife and habitat conservation. Although people admire specific animals or groups of animals for various reasons, we must evaluate this in a business-like manner, and determine what species will generate public and political support. These species should give us the best chance of protecting habitat - both large and small. This is not a matter of biological science, but rather psychological science, using an appealing looking species, with effective marketing and sales to achieve conservation. Daily, consciously or not, we are influenced by marketing - it works. Popular actors, actresses, musicians or athletes often influence people to favor products or agendas. Similarly, certain animals have influencing effects on people. These animals render admiration, concern, and sympathy for their well-being for a variety of reasons. Most often, these species are admired for their looks, physique or behavior. They are cute, handsome or endearing. Bears, elephants, owls, penquins, whales and some primates receive much media attention. These animals are popular in documentaries, internet sites, magazines, newspapers, and television. They have high market value as readily seen by sales of art, photographs, DVD’s, iPad applications, toys and video games, among other outlets. This unique interest in owls can be parlayed by conservationists, educators, managers, and researchers into support for all wildlife. For example, in Canada and U.S., Snowy Owls can be used to generate interest in Arctic conservation; Short Eared Owls for grassland; Burrowing Owls for rangeland conservation; Great Gray Owls and Northern Saw-Whet Owls for forest conservation and so forth.