Saturday, December 19, 2009

Day XIX - Rukh

Rocks fall from the sky,
Awesome wings bear bad tidings,
Sindbad sunk again.

A spectacular avian giant from Arabian Nights tradition, the Rukh or Roc is understood as being an enormous eagle-like beastie powerful enough to pick up animals as large as elephants and carry them off into the air (to eat later). Over the ages, various travellers and storytellers - including Marco Polo - have given accounts of the great bird and the Rukh makes its mark in the Sindbad stories as it appears on voyages two and five. On his first encounter, Sindbad is only saved from certain death in the diamond-studded death valley of giant snakes when he hitches a lift from an oblivious Rukh, so the second encounter between sailor and supreme bird sort of balances things out. When Sindbad's crew crack open the egg of a baby Rukh on voyage five, the livid mother Rukh swoops down, bombards their escaping boat with boulders and sinks them for their destructive cruelty. The immense bird of prey was made even more impressive in the Seven Voyages of Sinbad movie as Ray Harryhausen imagined it with two heads. Quite simply, the Rukh rocks.

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