Friday, February 25, 2011

Piasa Bird

Aldorbans post of his picture of the Piasa bird sparked old memories which precipitated another dive down the internet rabbit hole. I have a certain fondness for the Piasa Bird, the Piasa bird trail patch being one of the coolest patches one could get by hiking with the Boy Scouts  in '70s Illinois. Believing it to be an Native American petroglyph I was shocked to discover that not only that the current Piasa bird was painted in the 2000's, but the previous one I admired as Native American  rock art was painted in 1934. The original petroglyph was quarried away in the late 1800's for limestone.

First description is from the  French Explorers Pere Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet  traveling the Mississippi River in 1673. Jean Jean-Bapiste Louise Franquelin drew the following from their description.

First known picture is from someone who saw it was John Caspar Wild's Valley of the Mississippi Illustrated, page 136. Unfortunately the scan on the internet is not a very good one, the description in the text is better. I downloaded the image from the internet and enhanced the contrast to bring the very faint image in the original scan out.

A better old picture is from Henry Lewis's Das illustrirte Mississippithal although it does not look like a Native American petroglyph.

The current painting at the rock is below (from Wikimeida commons)

This link here is my favorite Piasa Bird, not being fond of the garish colors most paintings use. Note: I have not posted it here as I am unsure whether the owner has placed it in public domain.

P.S. O.K. I must post now having wasted far too much of my precious "snow" day on this post. Although it has a curious relevance to a map I was planning to post later.
P.P.S. I have spend so much time on the Piasa bird I am now listed on page two of the google search. This of course necessitates posting of even more of the pictures I have found.

1 comment:

  1. As another Illinois boy scout from the 1970's that trekked those hills once I want to say thanks for a pleasant memory.


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