GOULD, John (1804-1881)
[Himalayan Pucras Pheasant] Pucrasia macrolopha
[London: by the Author, 1850-1883]. Hand-coloured lithograph by John Gould and H.C.Richter, printed by Hullmandel & Walton. Wove paper. Sheet size: 14 1/2 x 21 1/4 inches.
A fine image from John Gould's magnificent folio work 'The Birds of Asia'.
Now known as a Koklass Pheasant. John Gould notes that this beautiful bird is native to 'the central portion of the great Himalayan range... I learn from the notes of the late Hon. F.J.Shore that it is found all over Gurhwall, on ridges from 5500 to 8000 feet high, and that its native name is Koklas or Fuklas . Major-Gen. Hardwicke procured it on the Almorah Hills, and Dr. William Jameson states that it inhabits the Himalayas at an elevation of from 1800 to 5000 feet'.
'The Koklass Pheasants have a very discontinuous area of distribution; some subspecies are found in the Himalayas from Afghanistan to Nepal, others in the east of Tibet and north-east China... Koklass are mountain birds living in forests mostly at altitudes of 4000 feet up to about 15,000 feet. They are rather solitary and are never seen feeding in flocks... The cock has an unusual crow and both birds make croaking noises reminiscent of a raven.' (A.Rutgers Birds of Asia 1969, p.38).
The intended geographical range of "The Birds of Asia" was enormous, and very much in keeping with the seemingly limitless self-belief of the 19th-century's best known ornithologist. In his all-encompassing work John Gould includes species from all corners of the eastern world, as Richard Bowdler Sharpe noted the work covers "Species from Palestine to the eastward, and from the Moluccas to the west". Gould chose to record the bird life from an area which, with the exception of the tropical areas of the American continent, includes the widest, and most colourful variety of bird life to be found anywhere in the world.
The present plate is from a large number of images documenting the pheasants of the region, one of the most beautiful and varied of all bird families.
Cf. Anker 178; cf. Fine Bird Books (1990), p.102; cf. Nissen IVB 368; cf. Sauer 17; cf. Wood p. 365; cf. Zimmer p.258.