Monday, August 22, 2011

Oriental Games

I’ll be discussing Horst Schmudde’s excellent book on Oriental Gamefowl with The Chicken Whisperer on Tuesday, August 23. Check out my blog posts from February 13, 2009 and November 19, 2009 for information about the book and this group of chickens. This beautiful painting is from Lewis Wright's 1890 Illustrated Book of Poultry.

In the process of writing an article about Egyptian Fayoumis with Kermit Blackwood this month, I learned more about the history of Games in India. The Asil in India fought as a proxy for the gods in religious ceremonies as well as for sport. Asils came overland from India with traders to Canaan, present-day Israel. There, the Canaanites, the Hebrew people of the Levant, bred it selectively into an egg-layer, the first egg production breed. Chicken and eggs play a prominent role in Jewish cookery. These historic Hebrews were probably the first people to mix eggs into flour to make bread and noodles. Chickens and their contributions to the diet were one of the cultural additions incorporated into Roman life after the Romans conquered the Middle East.

That Game background influenced not only the Fayoumi, but spread into Mediterranean breeds such as the Leghorn and Minorca and the Lakenvelder. Ultimately, through the Fayoumi, it influenced Silver Campines and Friesans, which have plumage similar to Fayoumis.

Tune in to The Chicken Whisperer Tuesday for the discussion.

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