Anya Ellis’ depiction above of the ideal Seraph, 2017, is a notable accomplishment. The modern Seraph is different than the Seraph of the past in subtle but significant ways, with changes particularly evident in the head. Seraphim primarily compete in the Show Ring as birds of structure, both of body and feather. The new painting demonstrates the regal upright posture and the long, flowing line demanded of all Seraphim. It also demonstrates the more deeply feathered mane, the deeper swoop leading to the needlepoint peak, and the unusually long and full frill expected of the 2017 Seraph. The deeper swoop is the result of a combination of changes in feather and form: longer feathers in the mane and a rounder, larger skull with a higher skull arc in the top and back. The beak is definitely “down-faced”. The gullet has to be readily apparent.
Carefully compare the new Standard to the “old” 2009 Standard above it and pay particular attention to all components of the head and neck. To the trained eye the changes are obvious even though subtle. This look is the new goal for serious Seraphim breeders.
The 2017 Standard has been in development since the SCI Club Show of 2013, at which time a long range discussion was begun about the skull and the ideal of the “apple-headed” Seraph, a trait highly desired but difficult to create. Discussion also surrounded the concept of the “frilly” Seraph vs. the “physical” Seraph, i.e. what is the proper balance of feminine frilliness versus masculine physicality and power. The androgenous appearance of the Seraph is the result of the tension between the two selves – the masculinity of physical power, form, and stance and the femininity of long feather, frills, and softness. Ideally both sexes carry a perfect balance of masculinity and femininity. If the feminine frilliness and long feather is overpowering, the bird is beautiful but looks weak; if the powerful masculine form is overpowering and the feathering too short, the feminine effect of the frilliness is lost, along with the androgeny the breed is expected to demonstrate. In Seraphim, artistic balance is paramount. A perfect Seraph should be a delight to the eye and should elicit an emotional response from the viewer. The bird should give off an aura of powerful fragility.
This typey Seraph is a challenge to create, but it is a worthy effort, and certainly possible, as evidenced by the annual competition of the Seraphim Club International in Des Moines (Please see individual Show Reports under “News.”) where many specimens of the newest Standard can be seen.
David Coster, SCI Club Manager