Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Airspeed of an Unladen Eagle

Every school child is taught that Benjamin Franklin argued for the turkey to be the American national bird. Despite the eagle's less "noble" characteristics, it somehow beat out the competition. I haven't noticed the turkey prominent on antique samplers, but eagles abound. The Ben Franklins of the world must have saved their energies for other battles because the popular eagle pops its head in on the crests, flags, and coats of arms around the globe: from Nigeria to the Phillipines, from Mexico to Poland.

As with all creatures, as some point a mutation occurs. The eagle sprouts a second head, and contrary to logic, this dual-headed beast seems to thrive. This is not to be confused with the American Double-Eagle ($20 gold coin) which is quite rare, or the "double eagle" three strokes under par for a single golf hole, which is even rarer if you insist on witnesses. Earliest 2h eagle sightings were back in the 20th century BC with the Hittites, but the beast really took off with the rise of the Byzantines.

The two heads sometimes represented dual sovereignty, but many countries adopted this motif merely because, "It looked way cooler than that ordinary eagle," as one spokeman stated. The town of Berg en Terblijt in the Netherlands uses this fine black 2h eagle on their coat of arms.

Naturally, the 2h eagle motif shows up in many antique samplers such as Zeeland 1763 by Permin. Looking through my stash and WIP pile, I see it is also making many appearances on modern samplers that feature antique-style motifs such as Paradigm Lost (left) and Renaissance by Long Dog, etc.

Ripley's Museum boasts a 2h magpie. 2H snakes, turtles, and common farm animals abound. The BBC share this picture of a three-head/six legged frog (don't let him near your stitching!). There are mutant examples all over, but one must wonder why the 2h eagle rose to the level of respect and ubiquity it has, when the rest of the 2h menagerie is written off as freaks? National Geographic has a nice article written about the difficulties a typical 2h organism would face, particularly with feeding itself.

Hey 2h eagle has gotta eat, right? So if this is a video showing that a golden eagle CAN carry away a red fox, then why are these eagle stories all just Urban Legends? (Probably the part of the story about the husband cheering just out of range of the sobbing wife.)

"¡Yo quiero Chihuahua!".
And for those chihuahua lovers out there that might be offended, just add a few stitches in the tail area and say it is a cat... Unless you are also a cat lover. In which case you can improvise independently.


KsMaryLou said...

Oh I do love the way you provide us with background, history, and videos. Imagine how I can impress my uninformed friends when I finally get to stitch this Beast. hee, hee

Stitch Wizard said...

Hi Tracy:

What a great blog you have here and it is so interesting too!! Your little dog is adorable!! Thank you for stopping into my blog and for the super nice comment! I hope that I am doing my rainbow Hanky Pysanky justice with your great creation here!! It is really fun to stitch and I think the colors are really pretty!!! Do come back!! Debby :)