Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

Monday Inspirations: The Bird Women of Vao Artan

I’ve gotten a number of comments over the past few days about my header, so I thought I’d talk a little bit about some the inspirations that I’m drawing from for my fantasy WIP, Path to the Peacock Throne.

Art by Susan Seddon Boulet

I’ve been nursing the idea for country founded and governed by women for some time now, and it was in April that I started to build the basic structure of the land I have since named “Vao Artan.”  The central organizing myth is that the realm was settled by seven sisters, siblings who were in the goddess’s favor and blessed with dominion over the land.  Each sister had a specific talent — the cultivation of land and livestock; hunting and martial prowess; music, painting, and the arts; scholarly research; mathematics and science; magic; and diplomacy and rule.  The descendants of each sister correspond to a specific strata or occupation within the society.

This is where things get interesting.  Each of the seven sisters is associated with a type of bird — swans and magic, owls and scholarly research, nightingales and the arts, etc.  The bird imagery continues throughout the duration of the society, to the point where the military’s headquarters is known as “The Falconry,” and the royal mage is known as “The Cygne” (cygne being French for “swan”).  Each queen takes the name of a bird to represent her personality/rule.  The current queen, Vaedyn, is known as the “Eagle’s Claw,” which symbolizes her status as a warrior.  My MC, Liandre, will take the peacock for her standard.

So with that in mind, I’ve been collecting all sorts of bird-related things to help me out with world-building.  I’ve been thinking about fashion, architecture, and decor, among other odds and ends. Today, though, I’m going to look at fashion.

Luckily, the fashion world has been drawing on avian inspirations for ages now, so there’s a wide range of ideas from which I can draw.

Feathers will definitely be integrated into this tale, from the crests that adorn the helmets of the nation’s soldiers and warriors and other accessories, like jewelry and belts, to elaborate gowns, cloaks, and other items of clothing.

I am completely in love this headpiece by Arturo Rios, which is elegant and dramatic, as well as a bit gothic.  It’s just the sort of thing the aristocrats of Vao Artan might wear.

I also love the idea of drawing inspiration for makeup and cosmetics from birds, like makeup artist Mark Lim did here, using this absolutely gorgeous peacock headpiece and choker.  (This is actually a look I’ve attempted with the bright blue and green eyeshadow, but I’m not nearly this talented!)

Other pretties include these phenomenal necklaces designed by Lucy Hutchings.  They are apparently inspired by the Bowerbird, “who loves to feather his nest with lots of blue to attract an egglayer,” according to Trendhunter.  I’ve introduced a similar sort of necklace into the third chapter of PPT, which is worn by the witch (or “Mother Cygne”) Simone.  Instead of being made from stones of blue-green, it is a rope of egg-sized, rough-hewn amethysts.

The women of Vao Artan, I think, like their jewelry big and bold, their clothing bright and colorful, and their accessories noticeable.  They are women after my own heart. 😉

Finally, here’s one last gown, created by Indonesian designer Anne Avantie.  It doesn’t have any explicitly avian details, but the color scheme is absolutely perfect for a young woman about to assume the “peacock throne.”  The model also reminds me of the way that Liandre appears in my mind, which is an extra bonus:

And there we have it!  A wee peek into the world that I am attempting to craft for Path to the Peacock Throne.  For more pictures and ideas, you can visit my Pinterest board (which is my method of choice for organizing world-building ideas).

Where do you turn for inspiration when you’re crafting a new tale?  How do you organize your ideas — scrapbooking, collages, digital photo galleries?


  1. What a great idea! I’m looking forward to reading your story. I like the way you are following your story idea into fashion, too. I don’t know how to leave a link in your comments, but you might want to search “Peacock Dance” on YouTube. I recommend the one by leokuen, with the lady in the white dress. Came up second on the list this morning. Thanks for your post.

    • Piper, thanks so much for stopping by. Clothing and fashion is one of my passions, so I can rarely start working on a story without asking myself, “What are they wearing?” 🙂 I’ll definitely check out “Peacock Dance” — thanks for the recommendation!

  2. I absolutely love this idea! The story sounds amazing and I want to be one of the sisters! The clothes are beautiful and the Peacock dress is amazing. She looks like a queen.

    I have never thought about gathering ideas from fashion etc but it will definately be something I try at some point.


    • I’m so glad you like this, Em! The story is coming along slowly but surely, though this is the one that is giving me the POV challenges.

      I really like poking around at fashion and costuming, particularly because it can help me to visualize both individual characters and larger societies. I still have to do a ton of work, though, as someone asked me how clothing trends differ among the various classes and I realized that I don’t have an answer for that. :p

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