Eyes on the Peacock's Tail

In this colourful folktale from Rajasthan, Vayu Naidu tells us how the peacock got eyes on his tail.  The story starts with a common line encountered in most jungle stories, "There was a time when all the animals in the jungle got together to choose a leader."  I wondered if the tale was merely one of those that one has heard many times before.  But not this time. 

The animals choose the peacock, because he is gorgeous and looks like a king  "You are so beautiful. You must be wise too. Will you be our leader?" 

The tale then progresses from the jungle scene to the Sun King's daughter, Surya, who falls in love with the peacock because of the colours he spreads in the forest.  She decides to marry him.  Her father is not too happy with her choice, ""Clouds began to gather on Sun King’s", face and the sky turned dark and gloomy."  But Surya was adamant and so he eventually relents.

They marry.  However, the high living in the Sun King's palace goes to the peacock's head and he becomes conceited and self centered.  Eventually, as in all folktales, we learn that pride goes before a fall.

The graphic imagery in the text, "Her hair was like a halo of flames," creates vivid images and would definitely appeal to the young readers.

The vibrant and richly textured illustrations by Mugdha Shah based on traditional Rajasthani Phad paintings add to the visual appeal.

A note on the last page of the book on Phad paintings, is a welcome inclusion and will give the child a better understanding and appreciation of this traditional folk art from Rajasthan.

Reviewed by Rama Bishnoi