yuan & yang

The male being perhaps the most beautiful of all ducks, Mandarins are not native to North America.

mandarin duck

Isolated populations do exist in the United States. The town of Black Mountain, North Carolina, for example, has a limited number. And there is a free-flying feral population of several hundred Mandarins in Sonoma County, California.

mandarin duck

Lo & behold, a single pair of Mandarin Ducks has just been discovered on Lake Mirror in (aptly-named) Lakeland, Florida!

mandarin duck

In traditional Chinese culture, Mandarin Ducks are believed to be lifelong couples, unlike other species of ducks. Hence they are regarded as a symbol of conjugal affection and fidelity, and are frequently featured in Chinese art.

mandarin duck

The female is indeed a bit plain-looking, comparatively speaking.

mandarin duckmandarin duck

Because the male and female plummages of the Mandarin Duck are so unalike, yuan-yang is frequently used colloquially in Cantonese to mean an “odd couple” or “unlikely pair” – a mixture of two different types of the same category. For example, the drink yuanyang, or yuan-yang (fried rice).

Of course, yin-yang also comes to mind. In Chinese philosophy, the concept of yin-yang, which is often called “yin and yang”, is used to describe how seemingly opposite or contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world; and, how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. Many natural dualities (such as female and male, dark and light, low and high, cold and hot, water and fire, life and death) are thought of as physical manifestations of the yin-yang concept.

yin yang symbol

This well-known Taoist symbol represents the yin-yang balance of opposites in the universe. When they are equally present, all is calm. When one is outweighed by the other, there is confusion and disarray.

True to form, this Lakeland pair of rogue Mandarins often seems the epitome of universal harmony and balance.


mandarin duckDo you suppose they have any inkling of the symbolic weight mankind has placed on their shoulders?

Do they really measure up to the hype bestowed upon them by saints and gurus?

I confess to a love for the rebel. Give me the individual who breaks the mold, shatters the stereotype, puffs his Mandarin whiskers out into a Fu Manchu and loses his cool.

[The Fu Manchu, incidentally, in the 60s heyday of counter-culture rebellion, came to be known as the “Biker Mustache.”]

This male Mandarin did just that once, lost his cool and chased after a Mallard that got too close to his woman.  See those whiskers a-bristlin’?  Ain’t no universal peace & tranquility and love for mankind in that expression!

mandarin duck

The anti-hero, that’s my kind of guy!  Let’s replace that boring black & white yin yang symbol with something a bit more virile to match the unpredictable ruthlessness of the Life Force that prowls the Universe.

yin yang symbol🙂 🙂 🙂

8 Replies to “yuan & yang”

    1. Thanks, Ron. I’m sure you have your share of great Mandarin images from Lake Mirror too! (Seeing as how you were the first to point them out to me.) 🙂


  1. I go for color over b&w any day. Like your yin yang much better. And them are some cool whiskers. Lucky Lakeland to have a pair of Mandarins.


    1. I filched the yin yang symbols off the Internet, of course, but I agree – color is way cooler! Thanks, Gunta…


  2. Again, what was once a distant uncertainty to identify becomes a gentle lesson with pictures in your hands. It a beautiful discourse, John. I learn here about the precision of a feather and that color flies.


  3. Love the article. Thanks so much for the continuing education. (can I get CE credits?)
    Who would have thought Mandarins are not native to North America?!?!


    1. Of course, I meant, would would have thought that Manadarin ducks ARE native to North America!!


    2. CE credits? I gladly take bribes 🙂

      From what I read they weren’t originally native to here, but some escaped as pets and have continued to breed and survive.



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