The meaning of the Day
- [Our traditional Thanksgiving Day article...]
Happy Meleagris Gullapavo Day
Or, how the "thanksgiving bird" acquired its name:
The homeland of the fowl known as "Meleagris
gullopavo" or "americana sybestris auis," is the North
American continent. The 1494 Tordesillas treaty, forged by
the Pope in Rome, granted the monopoly of commerce
originating from the newly discovered continent to the
Portuguese (as opposed to the Spanish). The Portuguese
brought this fowl to their Goa colony in India. Circa
1615, Cihangir (a direct descendent of the founder of the
"Mughal" empire in India, Babur 1483-1530, who was himself
a grandson of Timur who died in 1405) wrote his Tuzuk-u
Jahangiri (Institutes of Cihangir). In his book, Cihangir
also described this fowl in detail replete with a color
drawing. Since "Meleagris gullopavo" resembled the
"Meleagris Numida" commonly found in Africa (especially in
Guinea), and already known in India, the former became
known in British India as the "Guinea Fowl." [See O.
Caroe, "Why Turkey." Asian Affairs (October 1970)].
Meleagris gullapavo was then introduced to Egypt, a
province of the Ottoman empire and entered the Turkish
language as Hindi ("India," or, "from India"). When
traders took a breeding stock from Ottoman ("Turkish")
Egypt to Spain and the British Isles, the bird was
designated "Turkey." As a result, the pilgrims landing on
Plymouth rock in 1620 were familiar with "Turkey," when
they encountered it in their new home. After the 1776
Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin suggested
that "turkey" --native of the land-- be designated as the
symbol of the young American republic. Instead, Haliaeetus
leucocephalus ("Bald Eagle") was given this honor.
H. B. Paksoy, "Turk Tarihi, Toplumlarin Mayasi,
Uygarlik" Annals of Japan Association for Middle
East Studies (Tokyo) No. 7, 1992. Pp. 173-220.
[Reprinted in Yeni Forum (Ankara), Vol. 13, No. 277,
Haziran 1992. Pp. 54-65].