The Ho ho bird comes from the mythical Japanese version of the Phoenix. Although most commonly referred to as the Ho ho, the mysterious creature, with a long beak and curving neck, flowing tail, claws and crest takes on many other names, including hoo, foo, ho-wo, hobo, howo, ho and sacred river! Originally appearing as a motif in Asian decorative art (ceramics, woodwork and plasterwork), the bird was said to bring luck, symbolising good fortune; specifically longevity, fidelity and wisdom. It is often portrayed as an amalgam of several birds, including the phoenix, pheasant, stork, heron and bird of paradise.
Ho ho birds occur frequently within Rococo decoration from 18th century France, commonly on mirrors, mantel clocks and candle stands.
Ho ho birds first starting appearing in England in the 18th century on Georgian furniture and also on quality porcelain. The most common place for these birds to appear was on Georgian fret mirrors (many of which we frequently have in stock at Thakeham Furniture) These mirrors, dating from about 1760 onwards, usually incorporate a shaped cresting board in which the gilt Ho ho bird is mounted. (please see example) They are a simple decorative element that give a little lift to an otherwise understated classic Georgian design.