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No. 133: JAN-FEB 2001

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The Ubiquitous Bird-and-fish Motif

Pre-Columbiana, a new journal, promote the popular but "out-on-the-fringe" theory that all our planet's oceans were crossed repeatedly before Columbus (an the Vikings, too). One type of evidence adduced to prove such Precolumbian cultural diffusion is the widespread appearance of motifs that are so specific and unusual that one is forced to admit that independent invention seems very unlikely. In the latest issue of Pre-Columbiana, G. Farley has collected examples of the singular "bird-and-fish" motif from Asia, Africa, both Americas, and the Middle East. As you can see from the illustrations, the similarities are striking, and the bird-fish "contact" highly specific.


Bird-and-fish motifs. Clockwise from upper left: Mimbres culture, New Mexico; ancient Egyptian hieroglyph; Chimu culture, Peru; ancient China. (Farley, Gloria; "World-Wide Occurrence of a Bird-and-Fish Motif," Pre-Columbiana, 1:187, 1999.)

Comment. Yes, we do know that the birds involved are all fish-eaters, but the "kisses" seem more symbolic than pre-consumption. Also, the fish portrayed are often too big to swallow.

From Science Frontiers #133, JAN-FEB 2001. 2001 William R. Corliss

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