[Sca-cooks] Indian Hens, pictures of Turkeys

Terry Decker t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net
Thu Sep 11 15:05:05 PDT 2008

I ran across this book today in the Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek (Bavarian 
State Library) and in browsing through it, found these two pages depicting 
"Indian Hens", which look a lot like wild turkeys to me.  The book was 
published in Frankfurt in 1592.

Amman, Jost / Bocksberger, Hans <der Ältere> / Schaller, Georg: Thierbuch, 
Francfurt 1592 [VD16 S 2261]

Indian Hens
Male, pg 206

Female, pg 207

Lady Sophia Kress

What is interesting about these woodcuts is the birds in them appear to be 
Meleagris gallopavo silvesteris or the eastern woodland turkey, which has a 
range from the Atlantic seaboard to Oklahoma.

The turkeys that were imported into Europe and became the basis for 
domesticated turkeys are likely either M. g. intermedia (AKA M. g. 
riograndensis) which range into Northern Mexico or M. g. gallopavo, the 
southern Mexican turkey.  Argument has been made for Agriocharis ocellata, 
the ocellated turkey, being the source for the domesticated turkey and it 
was maintained in pens in the Yucatan, but, in my opinion, the color and 
conformation don't seem to match known paintings.

I haven't seen a southern Mexican turkey, but the Rio Grande turkey I've 
observed looks a lot like the turkey in Vincento Campi's The Poultry Seller.


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