"As if Kandinksy wanted to draw a bird
made out of orange rind, fortune cookies,
the lines of Chinese calligraphy pens,
bars of snow, shyness of a new Geisha,
boldness of the Great Wall, freshly built."
~ The Mandarin Duck, Matthew James Friday
Mandarin ducks are known for their vivid coloring - rainbows of red, orange, purple, blue and green, and burgundy! Interestingly, Mandarin ducks don't quack like North American ducks. They make small, almost chirping noises while going about their daily activities, or they can voice shrill and alarm-like sounds to signal danger! Their native breeding areas are eastern Siberia, Japan, China, and parts of North Korea, though small colonies of rogue ducks have been spotted in California and Florida. Also known as "wedding ducks" for their loyalty to their mates, they're a popular symbol of love and fidelity in Asian countries. In the olden days, a man might buy or catch a pair of mandarin ducks to give to his bride's family. In more recent times, couples would use pictures and carvings of mandarin ducks as wedding decorations or might receive a carved pair as a gift. Multiple legends in Japan tell of a male and female mandarin duck becoming separated and using supernatural means (such as transforming into humans) to be reunited! 🦆
The mandarin duck, Aix galericulata receives its name from the Greek for an unknown diving bird mentioned by Aristotle. The galericulata is something like "wig" or "cap" and references the bright breeding plumage on the male’s head.
Mandarin Ducks are some of the most beautiful water birds in the world, sometimes called “The Far East Rainbow”. They symbolize love, romance, devotion, affection and fidelity to the partner.
The male mandarin duck is extremely easy to identify. Considered one of the prettiest birds, it has orange, green, white, blue-ish, and black feathers, some of which curl up into a "sail" shape.
Mandarin duck courtship rituals are, as is probably expected from their plumage, impressive affairs. They mock drink and mock preen, they shake, and emit a sound that one researcher likened to "a half-repressed sneeze." Most of the rest of the time they're rarely vocal, with the occasional "staccato hwick or uib uib" from the male and a "coquette call" from the female.
According to the register notes:
This tartan was designed and hand woven in Japan. Keiko, the designer, learnt the hand weaving of tweed from David Gurney in Scotland and has visited the weaving mills of Scotland on many occasions. She was inspired by her great love of weaving Scottish checks and tartans. The inspiration for the design reflects the worldwide admiration for the famous Royal Stewart Tartan. The colours chosen were inspired by those found on the Japanese Oshidori bird (the Mandarin Duck). The Oshidori bird is known for cuddling close to its partner and, therefore, is often considered to be a symbol of affectionate couples in Japan.
For more on the mandarin duck, click the duck!