Roc

The roc is a giant bird from the tales of Sinbad the Sailor.

The roc a mythological bird that is so big it can carry an elephant off in its claws. Different cultures have different versions of this fantastical bird. The one most people recognize is the roc (or rukh), made famous by Sinbad in 1001 Nights. There is also the Native Americanís thunderbird, the Buddhistís Garuda.

The classic roc is well known through the stories in 1001 Nights. It is described as a giant, white bird of prey resembling an eagle. Its wingspan is nearly 50 feet and its feathers are 24 feet long. It is said that it will pick up an elephant, fly high into the air, and drop it in order to kill it. In the story of Aladdin, it is hinted that a roc is the genieís true master. The princess tells Aladdin that she wants a rocís egg to hang from the dome of the palace. Aladdin takes out the lamp and tells the genie to bring him a roc egg. The genie gives a loud shriek that shakes the hall. He says they deserve to have their palace burn to ashes for wanting him to bring his master to them for mere decoration.

The roc appears in two of Sinbadís tales. During his second voyage, Sinbad uses a roc to escape a deserted island. He ties himself to the rocís leg, which is as thick as a tree trunk, using the cloth from his turban. On Sinbadís fifth voyage, Sinbad comes to an island with a roc egg on it. The passengers of the ship are curious and go over to the egg to look at it. They end up breaking the egg and eating the chick inside. Sinbad orders everyone to the ship and leaves immediately. Unfortunately, the parent rocs catch up to his ship. They destroy the ship by dropping large boulders on it.

The Native American thunderbird is a supernatural bird of power. It is intelligent, strong, and wrathful. It is a large bird capable of creating storms and thunder when it flies. Clouds are drawn together when it beats its wings. The sound of thunder comes from its wings clapping. Lightning happens when it blinks its eyes. It was thought that if they could take on human form if they tilted their beaks back like a mask and removed their feathers as if it was a blanket. They were said to marry into human families this way. In one story, a whale was killing other whales, making it hard for a tribe to survive. The thunderbird flew to the coast, dived into the water, seized the whale in its claws, and tried to lift it out of the ocean. The whale thrashed and the ocean water rose and receded many times before the thunderbird was able to pull the whale out of the water and dropping it to its death on land.

In Buddhism, there is an enormous predatory bird called the garuda. Its exact size is uncertain, its wingspan is said to be many miles long. When a garuda flaps its wings it creates hurricane like winds that make the sky dark and blow houses down. Compared to a garuda, a human is so small that it can hide in its plumage without worry of being seen. The garuda are the enemies of the naga, a race of intelligent serpent like creature. The feud started when the mother of the garuda and the mother of the naga married the same man. The husband gave each of them one wish. The nagasí mother wanted 1000 children and the garudaís mother wanted two children that were more powerful than the naga. They both got the children they wanted and their rivalry continued. Garudaís mother became the servant and prisoner to the nagasí mother from losing a bet. Garuda was eventually able to free her, but swore vengeance on the naga for their motherís treatment and have feuded with them since.