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"The Rhinoceros Hornbill"


David Normal:


The Rhinoceros Hornbill has been mistakenly identified as the symbol of the Borneo Iban tribe's god of war, "Sengalong Burong". This is not the case! The gentle hornbill's plumage seems to correspond to ostentation in military costumes.  This is the "General Hornbill" who represents the sensuality of the military man who dazzlingly uniformed is the very emblem of gallantry, causing women to swoon with his polished heroism.  Yet the oversized beak especially suggests an anatomical deficiency in "manly virtue" that no amount of medals, brocades, epaulettes and rattling sabers can compensate for.


Image taken from page 1064 of 'Unser Wissen von der Erde. Allgemeine Erdkunde und Länderkunde, herausgegeben unter fachmännischer Mitwirkung von A. Kirchhoff' Collection of the British Library.

View illustration on British Library's Flickr Photostream


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