Yellow-crested Cockatoo

To: Con Boekel <>
Subject: Yellow-crested Cockatoo
From: Harvey Perkins <>
Date: Tue, 13 May 2014 20:57:32 +1000
I agree. The point I wanted to make was that there were links between Europe and the area from which white cockatoos might be sourced well before the time the painting was made.

Nevertheless, the fact that Andrea Mantegna was from Padua, 25 km to the west of Venice and then part of the Republic of Venice, can't be overlooked and discarded as simply Eurocentic history making.


On 13 May 2014 19:30, Con Boekel <> wrote:
The focus on Venice and on Vasco da Gama is, essentially, eurocentric history making.

Looking at history from the source of the cockatoo gives a quite different set of possibilities. We know that the Roman Empire had trade links with both the Indian Ocean, and, via the silk road, with China and that there was a major trading empire very roughly corresponding with Malaysia and Indonesia well before the Venetians ruled the roost.

On 13/05/2014 7:06 PM, Harvey Perkins wrote:
Hi David

This picture and associated speculation was the subject of debate on BirdingAus back on 19 March 2014 - see archives at 

I agree with Con, the likelihood is overwhelming in my opinion that this is not a Sulphur-crested but a Yellow-crested or other closely related species from Indonesia. The Yellow-crested occurs not only in Timor but also Sulawesi and the lesser Sundas. There is every possibility that one of these made its way to Venice, which monopolised the spice trade in Europe from 1200 to 1500. This from Wikipedia page on the Maluku Islands: 

"By trading with Muslim states, Venice came to monopolize the spice trade in Europe between 1200 and 1500, through its dominance over Mediterranean seaways to ports such as Alexandria, after traditional overland connections were disrupted by Mongols and Turks. The financial incentive to discover an alternative to Venice's monopoly control of this lucrative business was perhaps the single most important factor precipitating Europe's Age of Exploration."

I don't think there is the remotest chance of definitively determining the actual identity of the cockatoo in the painting - the detail just isn't there.


On 13 May 2014 18:39, Con Boekel <> wrote:
This is the bird I was thinking of:

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