National Geographic : 1927 Apr
VOL. LI, No. 4 WASHINGTON APRIL, 1927 THE NATIONAL COPYRIGHT.1927. BY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY.WASHINGTOND. C. . IN THE UNITED STATESAND GREAT BRITAIN THE RACES OF DOMESTIC FOWL BY M. A. JULL, PH. D. POULTRY IIUSBANDMAN, BUREAU OF ANIMAL INDUSTRY, U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE With Illustrations in Color from Paintingsfrom Life by Hashine Murayamna. Staff Artist IT IS a far cry from the time that man first heard the crow of the wild cock of the bamboo jungles of India to the cackle of the highly domesticated hen upon celebrating her production of ,o000 or more eggs. From time immemorial, fowls have entered closely into human life in a va riety of ways. They have made impor tant contributions to the food supply of many nations and their feathers have served for the greater warmth and com fort of mankind. The pugnacious char acter of the wild cock led to the develop ment of the sport of cockfighting, which frequently had a remarkable influence on civilizations of bygone days. From the esthetic standpoint, members of various human races have busily occu pied themselves in evolving plumage col orations in bewildering variety, and have also produced changes in feather structure and body type that demonstrate the rela tive plasticity of the original stock. What man has accomplished within recent years by breeding from selected variants has been shown by his success in developing the large number of breeds and varieties of fowl known to us to-day. In these and in other ways, because of their small size as compared with many other domestic animals and because of their adaptability to a wide variety of climatic conditions, fowls have entered into the interests of more human beings than any other animal. The regard which ancient peoples had for the fowl is recorded in the outbursts of the poets and in the chronicles of the naturalists. THE ANCIENTS IIELD FOWI,S AS SACRED The cock and the dog were sacred ani mals in the religion of Zoroaster. A verse attributed to Chanakya, written about 300 B. C.. says that four things may be learned from a cock-to fight, to get up early, to eat with your family, and to protect your spouse when she gets into trouble. The cock was once regarded as the pos sessor of many mystic qualities. It was believed, for instance, that while the devil would never enter the house of one who slaughtered a white cock with a divided comb, such a person would suffer loss of his possessions. Properties of various kinds were at tributed to different parts of the cock, and if they had been founded on fact the domestic fowl would long since have been regarded as one of mankind's greatest benefactors. It was claimed that bad habits would depart from a man who drank of a solution containing the dried comb of a cock, and the smoke of the dried comb of a white or of a red cock was of benefit to a madman. Loss of memory was cured by taking, in the morning, on a fasting stomach, a mixture of the gall of a cock and mutton broth. Pain was relieved immediately by taking pills made of pounded dried flesh of a cock with equal quantities of gallnuts and sumach. Man's virility was supposed to be greatly increased by an application of cock's blood mixed with honey.