Korean Long-tailed fowl Articles from American Newspapers.
Seattle, Washington, March 25 - A curious breed of chickens has been imported from Korea. The chickens have tail feathers of stupendous length. Until a year ago they were known nowhere but in the Hermit Kingdom, and then only in the royal gardens. When Japan took over Korea they were widely distributed.
Saburo Matsumoto, a Japanese merchant here, has six of them, and besides has in incubators 100 eggs to be hatched. One of the two roosters has a tail nineteen feet long, the feathers being of bright scarlet and orage. A hen has a tail seventeen feet long, the remaining four birds have tails from twelve to fourteen feet long. The tails are carefully watched, and the roosts for the birds are built high, so that the tips of the tails never touch the ground. In wet and foggy weather it is necessary to wrap the tails in silky rice paper and pin them up on the backs of the birds.
It is said that a King of Korea first propagated this strange bird three centuries ago by crossing a pheasant with a wild bird. After the desired strain was obtained a big bounty was placed on the heads of the wild birds and the breed became extinct. This left the king the exclussive possessor of the long-tailed birds, and for generations it has been a royal pastime to care for and fondle them. As soon as a good supply of young stock can be hatched out poultry fanciers in other parts of the country will be able to obtain specimens.
New Castle News (New Castle, Pennsylvania) March 25, 1912.
Japan and Korea have a most remarkable breed of chickens, such as are known nowhere else in the world. They have been brought to their present wonderful state of perfection by more than a thousand years of careful breeding and improvement.
These chickens are like our own chickens in body. Their plumage is exceedingly gorgeous but what makes them wonderful is the fact that their tails are immense. A small chicken will have a tail of resplendent feathers from twelve to fifteen feet long. No breeder thinks much of a fowl with a tail less than a dozen feet long and tails from twelve to fourteen feet are common.
The Japanse breeders have the record of one bird whose tail reached the length of twenty feet, with a few inches over for good measure.
These tails are almost always magnificent, shimmering in rich bronzes and crimsons and gold; and the breeders keep them wrapped in thin rice paper to protect them, so that they shall not be bruised or smirched.
The breeding of the peculiar fowl began in Korea some time before the year 1000 A.D., and for many centuries the industry was aided by the royal house, and great honors and riches were given to the man who managed to breed a particularly fine specimen. Consequently, for ages there have been families in Korea that did nothing, generation after generation, except to breed long-tailed fowl. And, naturally, they became amazingly skillful in it. It is supposed that the breed originated from some wild fowl, but no one knows what it was.
In Japan the art of producing these long tails was rewarded with extravagant generosity. In the island of Shikoku, one of the biggest of the Japanese group, the ruler of the Province of Tosa, the Daimyo, used the best tail feathers as decorations for his spear and every tail feather had a deep significance, so that quite a little system of heraldry and etiquette was built up around the long-tailed fowl.