23 September 2009

Poetical essays on the dark gibbon

[In China] gibbons were praised for their quiet, serene nature and spiritual qualities. Elusive and rarely seen, they inhabited remote areas thought to be haunted by supernatural beings. Gibbons were considered magical animals, capable of assuming human form. Their evocative cries were associated with the eerie atmosphere of these mysterious places and inspired melancholy feelings in travellers. A famous image in Chinese poetry was of 'gibbons calling at the gorges', reflecting the fact that these animals were often heard but seldom seen among the high, woody, mist-covered cliff sides they inhabited...

Chinese paintings often associate gibbons with cranes. Gibbons' long arms and cranes' long necks indicate longevity and both creatures are appreciated for the graceful movements. A common notion was that, by linking hands, gibbons formed themselves into chains that allowed them to dangle from branches and dip drinking water from streams. Another popular image from Chinese and Japanese art depicts gibbons, sometimes linked in chains, grasping for the moon's reflection in a pool of water...The image is a parable for greed and striving for things that cannot be attained...
-- from Ape by John Sorenson

Black-crested gibbons

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