Guinea Fowl or Pintade: a Photo Essay
Dady Chery


By Dady Chery
Haiti Chery

Guinea Fowl (Pintade, or Numida ptilorhyncha) are variously described in a book by Jean-Marie Lamblard as:

“Birds of the mind who embody aspirations to ascend to the stars…. Ones who witnessed the birth of mankind and were partners to the first men on earth…. Ones who have never accepted domestication and look exactly as their ancestors did many thousands of years ago.”

The book guides the reader from Pharaonic Egypt to Alexandria, Greece, Abyssinia, Venice, Africa, and America in reverse order. The story includes the role of “oiseaux negres” in Haitian Vodou, where these birds are a symbol of the runaway slave because they reclaimed their freedom immediately after being introduced to the island in the early 16th century.

This hieroglyph of Neh-Bird, the guinea fowl reads: “I grant you eternity, which depends on me.” Karnak, Egypt, open-air museum White Chapel of Sésostris the 1st.

This guinea fowl, probably from Abyssinia, represents the bird of paradise, showing the promise of resurrection.

Greek skyphos with black figures, 5th Century B.C.

According to legend, amber originated from the tears of Meleager’s inconsolable sisters who, upon his death, turned into guinea fowl. Detail of a Roman sarcophagus.

To the ancient Greeks, the guinea fowl resulted from the metamorphosis of Meleager’s sisters into birds from their grief. In Greek, “guinea” meant meleagridis.

The people of the Nubians, the “Nehesiou”, whose name is written with the image of the bird of Nubia. Base of statue of Darius1st found at Susa. 5th century. Museum in Tehran.

The goose with a thousand pearls. Popular art of Tanzania.

Large group of guinea fowl, in east Africa. The text of a “Journey to Ouaday” by Sheikh Mohammed Ibn Omar El-Tounsy, translated into French in 1851, refers to embassy gifts of guinea fowl eggs collected by thousands by east-African farmers.


Guinea fowl | Pintades | Oiseaux Nègres | Numida ptilorhyncha

In memory of those lost today.

Sources: Haiti Chery | Based on the book:  L’Oiseau Nègre: L’Aventure des Pintades Dionysiaques, by Jean-Marie-Lamblard, with a foreword by Ernest Pignon-Ernest. Publisher: Imago (2003) | Pintade, Oiseau Africain, Pintade et Mythologie


Copyright © 2011-2013 by Dady Chery. Dady Chery is a journalist, playwright, essayist and poet, who writes in English, French and her native Creole. She is the Editor of

Leave a Reply