The 鬥了貓頭應 Doule Maotouying, known in English as the Doyle Owl, is perhaps the world's oldest surviving image of an owl! It was surreptitiously resurrected from an ancient tomb at the foot of Songshan in the Chinese province of Henan in 1901 by the renowned English Sinologist, Sir Edmond Backhouse, one year after his earth shaking discovery of the diary of Ching Shan, . (See the definitive biography and exploits of Sir Edmond in Hugh Trevor-Ropper's excellent book, The Hermit Of Peking, The Hidden Life of Sir Edmund Backhouse, Alfred A. Knopf, 1977, which we strongly urge you to read). Unfortunately, in spite of meticulous research, Hugh did not uncover the mystery of the 鬥了貓頭應 Doule Maotouying, known in English as the Doyle Owl. |
Renowned scholars from the art history department of Reed College in Portland, Oregon, after painstaking study, determined from the shape of the Doyle Owl's beak, before it was broken by vandals at the College, that it is surely a product of China's oldest known dynasty, the 夏 Xia, 2205 (or perhaps 2206, there is some small disagreement among scholars) to 1766 B.C. Sir Edmund wrote a detailed report on this momentous discovery, but unfortunatley, again, poor Edmund suffered many misfortunes, his papers were burned by the Japanese when they invaded Peking in 1937. As Hugh reports in his book, page 3 of the Prologue (Hugh is English), "The Japanese, deeply suspicious of all written documents, made a bonfire of his (Sir Edmund's) papers and manuscripts...and so priceless records and labor of nearly half a century were lost.'!! (Exclamation marks by MountainSong editor for emphasis!)
The above photograph of the Doyle Owl is the exclusive property of MountainSongs, its present owner and heirs, and is not to be copied downloaded or displayed in any compromising positions without the consent in writing of the owner of MountainSongs and its descendants. This website is a Chinese website established under the benevolent laws of the China, the PRC! Be warned! It is reported that Chinese gulags are even more uncomfortable than Doyle dorm, and four years is a short stay in a Chinese gulag...
Someone has said that a traveling Vice President of Reed hand carried this photograph to China and delivered it to the senior management of Mountainsongs but this is malicious lie. This photograph has always been the exclusive property of MountainSongs and we will guard it as devotedly as others guard the owl himself (or herself?).
But where is the owl today! That is the question that concerns all serious scholars of Chinese art history. Unfortunately, again, it cannot be answered with any degree of certainty or any certainty at all for that matter. All that can be said is that is was last seen on Youtube, and appeared to be in good health. So there is hope that this priceless treasure of human heritage may not be forever lost to future generations owl lovers, or lovers of owls.