The phoenix is an ancient symbol associated with immortality and resurrection, found in one form or another throughout Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Named after the Greek word for red (the color of fire), every 100 years the phoenix combusts in a burst of purifying flames, only to be reborn from the ashes. (If you have any doubts, see the appropriate Harry Potter film.) According to legend, the phoenix remains dead for three days (note the association with the dark of the moon) and then rises reborn from its own ashes on the third day. Not surprisingly, the early Church fathers viewed the phoenix as a symbol of the immortal soul and the resurrection of Christ (also on the third day) after his consumption by the fire of the Passion.
An important symbol in Roman and Egyptian mythology, the phoenix was symbolic of the sun. Jewish legends describe a bird called “Milcham” who, because he refused to be tempted by Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge, God granted eternal life. After 1000 years, a purifying fire would destroy the birds and their nest; an egg would remain, which would become a baby bird. “Milcham” thus lives on. The Chinese Feng-huang or Fung or Fum fire bird is one of the four sacred creatures. It alternates between yang solar fire bird and yin feminine lunar huang.
But THIS bird didn’t want anything to do with dark patterns or burnt-looking fabric that would look like he had been singed. All efforts to clothe him in ashes were shaken off with a haughty ruffle of his feathers. Looking at him, I shook my head and said, “You’re one fiery bird, aren’t you?” And then I realized he was indeed a fire bird. Looking at his face, it’s easy to see he’s stuck in the fire-mode and doesn’t want to have anything to do with darkness and ashes.
The fire bird’s glittery magenta Lycra skin looks a bit like dragon scales, although he is a bird, not a dragon. I covered each pair of wings with a different red/gold fabric, and then draped them with lacey, red sequined material that ends in scallops. I added additional trim to the edges. I covered his back and tail with eyelash yarn that looks a great deal like feathers. Additional, I added a variety of real feathers to his upper back and front and draped bead trim around his neck. Every time I thought I was finished, the fire bird would start to squawk: “More embellishment! More adornment!” He has a gold heart appliquéd on his chest, hidden by feathers. At last, loaded down with beads, feathers, and trims, he seems content.
His head had to be gold, of course. A delicate red feather “tiara” forms a fringe around his face. His head bobs up and down when he moves, looking like a hungry baby bird. People see him and start to laugh.